1 – APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE 

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Burrell 

 

2 – DISCLOSURE OF PECUNIARY INTERESTS 

There were no disclosures of pecuniary interests. 

 

3 – PUBLIC PARTICIPATION 

The members of the public who were present wished to speak on item 11 – Lads of the Village. The Chairperson moved to change the order of business on the agenda to bring forward item 11 so that this discussion could be had first.  

Members resolved to bring forward item 11 for discussion after item 5. 

4 – APPROVAL OF MINUTES 

Members resolved to approve the minutes of the Annual meeting of the council held on Wednesday 17 May 2023. 

 

5 – REPORTS FROM OUTSIDE ORGANISATIONS AND AGENCIES 

 

5.1 – KENT POLICE 

Inspector Nick Grainger provided members with a verbal update on policing in Stone. 

Inspector Grainger explained to members that in response to the Government’s funding of new police officers, the current provision by PCSO’s in Dartford would now be covered by a team of 13 Police Constables instead. They would act as Beat Officers assigned to specific areas. These officers have more powers available to them than the PCSO’s so this was a positive outcome for Dartford.  

Inspector Grainger explained that they were still recruiting officers and the Constable for Stone was a temporary cover. He expected to be in a more stable position going forward between September 2023 and March 2024.  

This approach is seen as a return to a traditional approach of having a beat officer and these officers will be reaching out to the community in the coming months. 

It was confirmed to members that the My Community Voice app would still be the best tool for residents to report non-emergencies and work with the local police and that beat officers will attend the Council meetings on a quarterly basis. 

Members thanked Inspector Grainger and resolved to note his update. 

5.2 – KENT COUNTY COUNCIL 

Councillor Penny Cole provided a written update and sent her apologies for the meeting.  

Councillor Cole’s report detailed the upcoming consultation regarding the Household Waste Recycling Centres, but confirmed this consultation was on hold while a working group is formed to work on keeping the HWRCs open and save money. 

It also confirmed that from November 2024 the Fasttrack bus route tender had been awarded to Go Ahead London and confirmed that the charging infrastructure would be in place by 2024 with the buses being owned by KCC through a fully-funded government grant. 

Members resolved to note Councillor Cole’s report. 

 

5.3 – DARTFORD BOROUGH COUNCIL 

Councillor Cutler informed members that there would be a lot of summer events to come including the concert in the park with films to roll out later on. 

  

Members resolved to note Councillor Cutler’s update. 

6 – CODE OF CONDUCT 

To resolve adoption of the Code of Conduct 2023. 

Members were presented with the proposed Code of Conduct for 2023, which was based on the Model Councillor Code of Conduct, developed by the Local Government Association (LGA) in association with key partners and after extensive consultation with the sector, as part of its work on supporting all tiers of local government to continue to aspire to high standards of leadership and performance.

All councils are required to have a local Councillor Code of Conduct. In November, the Council resolved to sign up to the Civility & Respect Pledge. The Code of Conduct was written to include the ideals laid out in the pledge. 

Members resolved unanimously to adopt the proposed Code of Conduct. 

 

7 – ADOPTION OF REVISED CALENDAR OF MEETINGS 

A revised calendar of meetings was presented for approval. This item was deferred from the Annual Council Meeting with the aim of increasing the number of committee meetings. The calendar had been revised to allow for additional meetings, and scheduled to align with the internal programme of officer work. 

One member queried whether the number of Scrutiny Committee meetings was still too low. The Chairperson reiterated that the meetings proposed coincide with the work plan that had been laid out and that the council meetings allow for any item of discussion that members might wish to include. Other members noted they also serve on the borough council and have meetings to attend there too. 

Members resolved to approve the proposed Calendar of Council and Committee meetings for 2023-24.
 

8 – APPOINTMENT OF CHAIRPERSON TO STANDING COMMITTEES 

At the Annual Council Meeting in May, members resolved the appointment of members to committees. However, this resulted in the Chairperson not being appointed as a member of each committee, which was not alignment with the recommendation in the Scheme of delegation. As the Chairperson is required to manage any recommendations from committees to the full council, it was felt important that she is sufficiently well versed regarding such discussions to support effective decision-making at full council meetings. As such, it was recommended that the Chairperson, Jessica McQueen, is appointed as a member of each of the council’s standing committees with immediate effect. 

 

Members resolved to appoint the Chairperson to the Council’s standing Committees with immediate effect.

Resolved. 

 

9 – NOMINATION OF PARISH REPRESENTATIVE TO JOINT TRANSPORT BOARD 

Members were requested to resolve to nominate their 1st and 2nd choice for Parish Council representative to the Joint Transport Board, for confirmation and attendance at JTB in September 

Members resolved to nominate Cllr Lesley Howes as their 1st choice of representative and Cllr Adam Jessett as their 2nd choice. 

10 – FINANCE 

10.1 – ANNUAL RETURN (AGAR) 

To resolve approval of the Annual Return (AGAR)  

The Responsible Finance Officer explained the requirement of the AGAR to the members and that once approved by the Council, it would be sent to the external auditors. 

Members thanked the RFO for a very well written report. 

Members unanimously resolved to approve the Annual Return (AGAR) 

 

10.2 – INTERNAL AUDIT REPORT 

To note the findings of the Internal Audit Report by Heelis & Lodge.  

Members resolved to note the findings of the Internal Audit Report. 

 

10.3 – COMMUNITY GRANT FUNDING 

Applications for the Parish Council’s Community Grant Award are presented for consideration.  

Councillor Mote declared an interest in this item as he is a Trustee of We Are Beams so excluded himself from discussion on this item. 

Members noted the lack of any other applications and it was confirmed that the Community Grant Scheme would be advertised in the upcoming newsletter and be pushed out to any known groups. 

Members resolved to approve the grant of £500 to We Are Beams. 

 

11 – LADS OF THE VILLAGE 

To discuss the proposed closure of the Lads of the Village public house.   

The Lads of the Village Public House is located on Elizabeth Street at the junction with Church Hill. It was built in 1793 and became a licensed premises in 1833 and has therefore played an important part of village life for almost two centuries The council was recently advised that the long-standing landlord of the Lads of the Village public house had been served notice to evict the premises by November. Sean Holland has been the landlord at the pub for over four decades and was previously awarded by the council for his outstanding service to the parish. The reason provided in support of the eviction was to enable to freeholder to demolish or reconstruct the premises, which they could not do reasonably without obtaining possession of the holding. It seems there is also a possibility that a new tenant could occupy the premises. This news presents an concern for the parish as the total number of pubs has diminished from eight to just three, despite the population growth more than doubling in size during the same period.  

These closures have reduced the number of pubs serving the parish to three: The Wharf at Crossways, The Bull at Horns Cross and the Lads of the Village. The Lads of the Village is the only pub that is not part of a wider brewery chain. The Brent Old Boys Club on London Road is also a licensed members club. 

Pubs play an important role in the social fabric of communities. They provide meeting places, supporting formal and informal social networks, and a focal point for community events. They also play a key role in supporting local economies, and in providing residents and visitors with access to information and services. Going to pubs can benefit people who are at risk of isolation and loneliness, such as older men, or who want to socialize and enjoy music or sports. Pubs can also promote a sense of teamwork and camaraderie, and help people cope with mental health issues by sharing problems. According to a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), community pubs generate social value ranging from around £20,000 to £120,000 per pub. Each pub is also estimated to contribute £80,000 to the economy annually. Pubs were adversely impacted by the recent Covid pandemic and have also suffered from the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, inflation, and increasing energy costs, which have led to a reduction in profits, making some pubs no longer viable. 

The Lads of the Village pub is also regarded as a local heritage landmark in a village setting, which would represent a loss to the local landscape if demolished. A planning application for the erection of two 3 bed semi-detached dwellings with associated parking and amenity space, and creation of new access was permitted in 2018. Reserved matters were approved in 2022 but to date seemingly only minor groundworks have been carried out at the site. 

Dartford Borough Council has its own concerns regarding the loss of pubs in the borough and has introduced new policy in the emerging local plan to increase protection through ensuring sufficient marketing of a pub has been undertaken which demonstrates it is not viable as a public house or for local community use before conversion or redevelopment for non-essential community use will be considered. 

Some measures are available to parish councils to prevent the loss of pubs impacting the community. From a planning perspective, the council can take action to have the pub listed as a local heritage asset due to its longstanding physical presence in the village. While this would not prevent redevelopment, nor demolition in certain circumstances, it would become a material consideration in assessment of any planning application relating to the site. From a community service prospect, the council has the power under the Localism Act to nominate the pub as an Asset of Community Value as the principal use of the asset furthers community’s social well-being or social interests (which include cultural, sporting or recreational interests) and is likely to do so in the future. 

Once an asset has been listed nothing further will happen unless and until the owner decides to dispose of it, either through a freehold sale, or the grant or assignment of a qualifying lease (i.e. originally granted for at least twenty-five years). When a listed asset is to be sold, local community groups will in many cases have a fairer chance to make a bid to buy it on the open market. However, these provisions do not restrict in any way who the owner of a listed asset can sell their property to, or at what price. The provisions also do not place any restriction on what an owner can do with their property, once listed, so long as it remains in their ownership. This is because it is planning policy that determines permitted uses for particular sites. However, the fact that the site is listed may affect planning decisions – it is open to the Local Planning Authority to decide whether listing as an asset of community value is a material consideration if an application for change of use is submitted, considering all the circumstances of the case. 

The Chairperson invited comments from the members of the public who were in attendance. 

The members of the public noted that the Lads of the Village public house was considered by many to be the heart of the village. Being a meeting place for friends and relatives as well as a number of clubs and societies including two veterans football teams, darts teams and a war society. The pub had live music and has raised lots of money for cancer research. 

Members discussed the importance of the pub and agreed that nominating it as an asset of community value would be beneficial to protect the provision whichwould give the local community time to look into further options regarding its long-term management 

Members resolved to nominate the Lads of the Village Public House as an Asset of Community Value and take action as necessary to get the pub listed as a local heritage landmark. 

 

12 – STONE RECREATION GROUND MASTERPLAN 

To receive an update regarding progress on the Masterplan and anticipated programme of activity. 

Members were presented with the stage 3 technical drawings for the café, including elevations, sections, floor plan, lighting assessment, and site plan for information. 

A programme of activity was also presented that outlines the design, planning and decision-making expectations to January 2024, when commencement of works is anticipated, subject to the positive conclusion of prior stages. 

The Chairperson noted that it was very positive to see movement on this important scheme and looked forward to seeing it progress. 

Members resolved to note the update on the Stone Recreation Ground Masterplan. 

 

There being no further business, the Chairperson closed the meeting at 20:09.