Date 19/01/2022
Time 19:00 – 20:10
Location Meeting Room, Claire Tiltman Centre
Present Councillor Lucy Canham, Councillor John Burrell, Councillor Paul Cutler, Councillor Julie Fukes, Councillor Jeanne Hoadley, Councillor Lesley Howes, Councillor Jessica McQueen, Councillor Margaret Mitchell

 

J Thomas (Parish Clerk), E Shrubsole (RFO), L McLean (Council Administrator)

 

PCSO Stephen Keers, PCSO Paris McIlravey

 

 

76/01/22CL: Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor K Grehan, Councillor C Pearce, Councillor S Thredgle and Kent County Councillor P Cole.

77/01/22CL: Disclosure of Pecuniary Interests

No disclosures of interests were made.

 

78/01/22CL: Public Participation

No members of the public were present.

 

79/01/22CL: Approval of Minutes

The council resolved to approve the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on Wednesday 3 November 2021.

 

The Clerk confirmed the CIL agenda report referred to in the minutes, and anticipated for inclusion at this meeting, was delayed awaiting provision for information and would now be scheduled for March’s full council meeting.

 

80/01/22CL: Reports from other authorities and agencies

 

  1. Kent Police

PCSO Paris McIlravey and PCSO Stephen Keers provided members with a report of the monthly crime statistics. PCSO McIlravey also provided members with a verbal update on crime and policing in the area.

It was reported that vehicle crime was the predominant problem with a number of reports being from the Crossways Business Park. Police have increased patrols in these areas.

 

Members learned about the My Community Voice messaging service that helps residents, businesses, and community groups to keep in touch with their local policing teams. The service sends updates about your local area directly from the police officers themselves.

My Community Voice is more than just a messaging service, allowing residents to reply to the alerts sent out by the Police, share information and report the issues affecting them.

Any resident can sign up to receive these alerts by visiting www.mycommunityvoicekent.co.uk

 

Members thanked PCSO McIlravey and resolved to note her report.

 

  1. Kent County Council

Councillor Cole submitted a written report to members which spoke about the recent Household Waste Recycling Centre Survey. 10,000+ responses were received and the recommendation was to keep the booking system in place. This has prevented queueing on the main roads and has allowed the staff to interact more with each visitor, increasing the recycling rates for the area from 50% to just under 70%.

 

The public Consultation into Library services is now well underway and Councillor Cole encouraged anyone who would like to submit their views about the future of library services can pick up a hard copy of the consultation from any library or access the consultation online at www.letstalk.gov.uk.

 

Members resolved to note Councillor Cole’s report.

 

81/01/22CL: Clerk’s Report

 

The Clerk provided members with a verbal update regarding the capacity building fund award and proposals to improve footpaths and lighting on Cotton Lane.

 

The Council has been successful in their application for Dartford Borough Council’s Capacity Building Fund. £5000 has been awarded to support the implementation of a carbon audit of Council facilities and operations plus accompanying public events and promotion of carbon neutrality objectives. The audit will form the starting point from which the council can base its strategy to achieve its commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

 

Council officers have been liaising with Kent Highways officers in a bid to improve the lighting and footpaths along Cotton Lane to enable users of the new Claire Tiltman Centre to access the resource safely and sustainably.

 

Kent County Council has confirmed the footpath DR9 by Cotton Lane would benefit from upgrading and have commissioned an assessment to establish feasibility and costs.

 

There is also a desire to improve street lighting from Elizabeth Street to Warner House and re-establish the footpath from Stone Lodge to Cotton Lane.

 

These improvements are in line with the council’s strategic and neighbourhood plan objectives to increase opportunities for walking and cycling around the parish.

 

It is hoped the improvements will be funded through a mix of highways funding, county member funding and CIL.

 

82/01/22CL: To formally note resignation of Councillor Kelly and confirmation of by-election to fill the vacancy

 

Members formally noted the resignation of Councillor K Kelly and that ten or more electors from Castle Ward have written to request a by-election be held to fill in the vacancy.

 

Members noted that the election will be held on 17 March 2022.

 

Members discussed the proposed requirement for poll cards but felt that this would incur additional cost to the election that was unnecessary

 

83/01/22CL: To resolve the appointment of committees and amended calendar of meetings.

Members resolved to reappoint the Recreation & Facilities, Human Resources and Finance & Audit Committees.

 

Members resolved to amend the proposed calendar of meetings to allow more time for the Recreation & Facilities committee to meet prior to the Jubilee celebrations in June.

 

84/01/22CL: To Appoint Committee Membership

The Chairman presented a proposed list of members to be appointed to each Committee.

 

Members resolved to approve the membership of the Committees as proposed.

These were:

Recreation & Facilities – Councillor S Thredgle, Councillor J McQueen, Councillor J Fukes, Councillor C Pearce and Councillor J Hoadley.

 

Finance & Audit – Councillor J Burrell, Councillor L Howes, Councillor L Canham, Councillor J McQueen and Councillor P Cutler.

 

Human Resources – Councillor M Mitchell, Councillor K Grehan and Councillor P Cutler.

 

 

85/01/22CL: To note achievement of Quality Gold Status

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) designed the Local Council Award Scheme “to celebrate the successes of the very best local councils and to provide a framework to support all local councils to improve and develop to meet their full potential.

 

The scheme offers councils the opportunity to show that they meet the standards set by the sector, assessed them by their peers, and put in place the conditions for continued improvement.” There are three award levels councils can apply for; foundation, quality and gold.

 

According to NALC “The Quality Gold Award demonstrates that a council is at the forefront of best practice and achieves excellence in governance, community leadership and council development. Quality Gold councils provide leadership for their communities, bring people together, have excellent business planning processes, ensuring value for money as well as constantly seeking new innovations and opportunities to improve. They highlight the very best we, as a sector, can achieve for our communities.”

 

At the Council meeting on 3rd November 2021, a report confirming our eligibility to apply was approved by members and our submission made in early December.

 

We received notification on 4th January 2022 that we had made a successful application for the gold award. The accreditation is valid for four years.

 

The panel praised the council’s application and complemented them on their comprehensive and interesting submission, which was both enjoyable and interesting to read. The panel very impressed and encouraged the council to continue with their excellent work.

 

At the time of writing, SPCis the only council in Dartford to be awarded the gold award and only the 6th in Kent, along with Sevenoaks TC; Faversham TC; Folkestone TC; Swanley TC; and Marden PC.

 

Members praised the Council staff’s efforts and fantastic achievement and noted the report.

 

86/01/22CL: To note the examiner’s final report for the Stone Parish Neighbourhood Plan and resolve follow-up action

Members were presented with the independent examiner’s report for the Stone Parish Neighbourhood Plan from Ann Skipper.

 

Members were very happy to see that the examiner had upheld most Neighbourhood Plan policies and had confirmed the Plan meets all basic conditions and requirements and therefore recommended the Plan go forward to a referendum.

 

Dartford Borough Council has written to the council to request an extension of the timeframe usually required within which to hold a referendum, providing a suggested date of Thursday 26 May 2022 for the referendum to take place.

 

Members resolved to note the report and confirmed the proposed date for the referendum would be acceptable.

 

87/01/22CL: To discuss and resolve the draft budget for 2022-23

The council was presented with the draft budget for 2022-23.

 

Members discussed the current financial climate with cost of living a subject of much debate. The council is always mindful of the effect of any increase in the precept on local taxpayers and seeks to do this only when necessary. The council has made a pledge in its recently adopted Strategic Plan that any precept increase would be capped at £5 in 2022-23 and 2023-24 to ensure any rises would be minimized.

 

However, members also acknowledged the significant number of projects in the pipeline, including plans to upgrade the recreation ground, launch of the new Claire Tiltman Centre, the upcoming neighbourhood plan referendum and local infrastructure improvements.

 

While the council’s three-year budget utilizes supplementary funding such as CIL and public works borrowing to alleviate upfront costs, other impacts such as the rise in inflation, increase in National and general insurance costs had put further pressure on an already tight budget.

 

Recovery of costs for an upcoming by-election would be made by DBC which will impact the budget further and some new services are still in their infancy and have not yet begun to provide the anticipated yield in future years.

 

Members were advised to note that any shortfall incurred in the next financial year would inevitably affect the level of council reserves, which are on the lower side of recommended levels.

Taking all of this into account, members felt the proposed £5 increase in the precept was unavoidable but pledged to ensure the parish continues to receive a high level of benefit for their contribution.

 

Members resolved to approve the draft budget as outlined for 2022-23.

 

88/01/22CL: To confirm the precept request for 2022-23

Members were requested to resolve the annual precept request for 2022-23, in line with the three-year budget.

 

The budget proposed a precept sum of £461,256.

 

The council tax base for 2022-23 was confirmed as 4,212.00. The Council Tax Support Grant was confirmed at £7,021, unchanged from 2021-22. The S136 Grant which was nil in 2021-22 remains the same.

 

Taking into account the respective sums, the budget recommended an annual charge of £109.51 for a Band D property, representing a £5.00 increase to parish residents.

 

Members resolved to confirm the precept request as outlined.

 

89/01/22CL: To resolve approval of the commission of a tender pack for the Stone Recreation Ground Masterplan

Members were presented with a proposal by Liberty QS Limited for the designing and managing of a tender pack for the proposed Recreational Ground Enhancement Works (Stone Recreation Ground Masterplan) at a cost of £2,950.

 

Members resolved to approve the commission of the tender pack as presented.

 

90/01/22CL: Authorisation of Payments

Members were presented with a schedule of supplier payments.

 

Members resolved to approve the list of payments provided.

 

91/01/22CL: Planning Applications

 

  1. To resolve representations to Major Planning Applications affecting the parish.

21/01409/VCON – Hangloose Adventure Bluewater Parkway Dartford Kent

Members felt that there had been no disturbances from Hangloose since it had been erected. Members felt there were no material grounds to object to the application.

Members resolved to make no comments on this application.

  1. To note representations by officers made under the council’s scheme of delegation

Members were presented with a list of representations made by officers under the council’s scheme of delegation.

Members resolved to note the representations.

There being no further business, the chairman closed the meeting at 8:10pm.