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NOTES FROM THE PARISH COUNCIL – APRIL 2018.

Withyham Parish Council (WPC) met on Monday 9th April  2018 at The Old Station, Groombridge

Action from the last meeting is on our website www.withyhamparishcouncil.org.uk and Facebook on www.facebook.com/WithyhamParishCouncil.  Minutes can also be obtained.

COMMUNITY CAFÉ AND ANNUAL PARISH ASSEMBLY (APA)  This was a great success. Feedback from clubs and societies who participated and those who joined us for coffee and cake and to wander around the stalls buying honey, discussing events put on by RSPB, chatting over the enjoyment of playing cricket and bowls and investing in books about the history of our parish was very positive. It has has led us to agree that this should be the format for our APA in 2019. So, we have secured the slot for the Community café and the APA next year. It gave everyone the opportunity to talk to us about issues in the parish and for us to celebrate the successes we have had with managing the parish on your behalf. Thank you to all those who provided such delicious cakes and savouries – the bacon rolls were extremely popular!  

WARD REPORTS

GROOMBRIDGE WARD: The compost bins on the Recreation ground are overflowing. The Parish Maintenance man is to be asked to review the situation and make recommendations.

Speedwatch is up and running, with an initial 6 sessions having been run in March, which resulted in 10 letters being sent to drivers who were exceeding the speed limit. Further sessions have been booked (and no we’re not telling you where these will be!) Thank you to the volunteers who manned Speedwatch in Groombridge. It is intended to roll this out across the parish, but we need more residents to undertake this very important role. Training will be provided. It was agreed that Speedwatch should be a standing item on the Council agenda.       

ST JOHN’S WARD: Water continues to run from the car park at Forest Fold Baptist church onto the Highway which could cause a hazard to drivers. Clerk will advise Highways. A request was made for Ward Chairs to store some litter picking equipment at home to tackle the litter as and when required, rather than wait for the WPC annual Litterpick event!  

WITHYHAM/BLACKHAM WARD: WPC is very pleased that its efforts to secure some traffic calming along the A 264 in Blackham may be coming to fruition. We have been working closely with the Senior Road Safety officer at ESCC, and, as a result of many meetings, site meetings and discussion, we are now facilitating a meeting on April 18th 7pm in Blackham Village Hall to enable ESCC to present to residents its proposals for a speed limit reduction on the Blackham section of the A 264. A period of public consultation will follow.

A fingerpost that had been damaged in Blackham is now in the parish office occupying the large meeting room!

BALLS GREEN COMMUNITY SPACE: The picnic tables have been delivered but now require fixings to secure them to the BBQ area. Possible shelters for activities such as Bushcraft are being investigated. It was agreed to aim for the second Bank Holiday in May to complete and open the Community area. Thank you again to the few volunteers who have given up so much of their time on this project.

ESCC PROPOSAL FOR HOUSEHOLD WASTE RECYCLING SITES:

A draft response had been circulated prior to the meeting and, following some slight amendments with headings, it was agreed that this would be sent to ESCC. It will be available on WPC’s website.

NOISE MONITOR PROPOSAL: WPC’s Air Traffic Committee has identified two possible sites for a noise monitor and requested one from Gatwick at no cost to the community.  

OUR WATCH (COMMUNITY WARDEN) The Community Warden, Chris Harrison, is making progress working with Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinators to expand the scheme in the community. He attended the Blackham market and the Annual Parish Assembly/Community Café where he took questions from residents and offered advice. Residents can contact him on the Clerk’s email address, or on Chris’ dedicated mobile 07734 392141.  

GRANTS FROM WPC: The Council has been running a Grant scheme for some years to enable organisations in the parish to contribute to the welfare of the community. Grants do not exceed £2000 and applicants must complete a grant application and provide relevant financial information to the Finance and Administration (F and A) Committee which meets 4 times a year. Recommendations from the F and A were considered and agreed as follows:

Samaritans   £175 for Service provision

Ashdown Conservators  £1,000  towards maintenance of the East Chase

Blackham Village Hall  £1,508  - 50% of costs of replacement windows

Blackham Village Hall  £0  WPC does not support retrospective payments, and, regrettably was unable to fund £355 for a replacement fridge larder that had already been purchased and installed.

Ashurst and Blackham Sportsground Association £0 WPC was unable to support £2,500 towards play equipment

Groombridge Village Hall £ 900 towards the creation of a library

Groombridge Sportsground Association  £1,000 towards the relaying and repair of the car park at the Tanyard subject to a condition that the car park remains free to users and payment is made once partnership funding is received.

Further grants will be considered by the F and A Committee on 28 May 2018

GROOMBRIDGE PLAYGROUND RENEWAL (GPR): At the March meeting, a 3 year plan was agreed with target completion 2020 subject to fundraising and the leaseholders approval. Fund raising events to be decided at the next meeting so bring your ideas along – none too small or unusual to be considered! Anyone wishing to volunteer to help is welcome. Details of contacts are in our WPC newsletter and on the WPC website. 

GENERAL DATA PROTECTION REGULATIONS (GDPR) : The Clerk had purchased councillor email addresses. Once a policy is in place, these along with instructions will be issued to avoid councillors using their own personal email addresses. Information can be found at ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/, particularly the guide ‘12 Steps To Take Now’.

WEALDLINK: Volunteer drivers needed - if you are interested, please contact them on 4weald.co.uk/ or 01892 771332.

Next Parish Council Meeting: Monday 21st May 2018 at 7.30pm 

Diana Kelly: Chair         Anne Jenkins: Vice Chair

Clerks at 01892 864557/ clerk@withyhamparishcouncil.org.uk

NOTES FROM THE PARISH COUNCIL – MARCH 2018.

Withyham Parish Council (WPC) met on Monday 12th  March  2018 at The Old Station, Groombridge

Action from the last meeting is on our website www.withyhamparishcouncil.org.uk and Facebook on www.facebook.com/WithyhamParishCouncil.  Minutes can also be obtained

COMMUNITY WARDEN: Chris Harrison, the Community Warden, provided a written report for Council to consider. He has responded to a wide variety of issues that have been concerning residents across the parish from attempted scams to parking outside schools.  He will also be working with Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinators to expand the scheme in the community. Chris’ report will be available to the public upon request. He will also be attending the Blackham market and the Annual Parish Assembly/Community Cafe. Residents can contact him on the Clerk’s email address, or on Chris’ dedicated mobile 07734 392141.

WARD REPORTS

GROOMBRIDGE WARD: The street light on the Victoria roundabout has been replaced following a meeting between ESCC and WPC.  Reports were received of accidents on Hendal Hill due to frozen water on the road during the very cold weather. The Clerks had reported this issue a number of times. The Community Warden has been asked to look at the overhanging hedge and the cars parked on the pavement near the Victoria Roundabout and to refer them to Operation Crackdown. This issue had frequently been raised at Road Safety Committee, and discussed with ESCC representatives, without any satisfactory action.   

ST JOHN’S WARD: Another tree had fallen across wires in St John’s Road but had been cut, presumably by the Conservators.  School Lane had been impassable in the snow, but residents had helped vulnerable neighbours.

WITHYHAM/BLACKHAM WARD: There had been another road traffic incident accident at the junction of the A264/Ironchurch Lane. The Assistant Clerk had reported it to ES Highways and requested an update on proposals for road safety measures, but the process is likely to take time. Once agreed there will be a period of consultation, and the Road Safety Committee would meet with residents to assist them in this.

It was noted that a fingerpost had been damaged which the Clerk has reported to insurers

BALLS GREEN COMMUNITY SPACE:   The picnic tables have been ordered and will be installed when the weather allows! The final phase will include the erection of a shelter for activities such as Bushcraft.  We would welcome some help from residents in Balls Green to complete this project, so that we may join with you all for a celebration of the development of this community space. It is a real tribute to the few volunteers who have given up so much of their time on this project.

ESCC PROPOSAL FOR HOUSEHOLD WASTE RECYCLING SITES:

The Parish Council has agreed to respond as a body to the consultation on the future of Household Waste Recycling Sites by ESCC. The County Council is proposing

-       The introduction of charging for certain waste types that are not ‘household waste’ such as rubble, soil, tyres and asbestos  

-       The possible closure of the part-time recycling sites at Forest Row and Wadhurst

-       A review of recycling opening hours

NOISE MONITOR PROPOSAL: An opportunity has been made available by Gatwick for parish councils to request a noise monitor of overhead aircraft at no cost, within certain guidelines. WPC’s Air Traffic Committee has identified two possible sites for this monitor which have been put forward by private landowners, and could be proposed to Gatwick for their consideration. 

PARISH LITTERPICKS UPDATE: The Groombridge litterpick had to be cancelled due to snow, but it was noted that Sam, the Parish Maintenance Person had been so diligent in collecting litter that it might be more appropriate to consider that future litterpicks   expanded into ‘Village cleans‘, or planting bulbs. At Blackham, four volunteers had collected 16 bags of litter (a photograph of which had been sent to BBC South East Facebook page). Four volunteers in St Johns had collected 7 half bags. You are not too late to join us on 17th  March in Withyham for the final litterpick!   

ANNUAL PARISH ASSEMBLY: This year the Annual Parish Assembly will be combined with the Community Café and hosted by WPC on Saturday 24th March at Groombridge Village Hall. Please do come along for tea and cake and to find out more about what is happening in our great parish. Stall holders from local clubs and societies will be proudly showing their achievements and you will have an opportunity to talk to us about any issues in the parish and offer us your constructive thoughts whilst sipping coffee/tea and sampling  delicious cakes and savouries! No speakers – just a chat with us.    

URBAN GRASS CUTTING: Councillors were very concerned that, having already set our budget and precept request, ESCC had informed towns and parishes that they intend to reduce the number of cuts previously agreed from six to two from April 2018 to save £400,000 per year. However, they would be offering the cuts that have been lost, at an additional price. ESCC will only cut verges which have become a safety issue. Councillors considered whether to pay for additional urban cuts in 2018/19 and agreed that as funds are not available in the budget or precept, WPC would not be able to do so. There will, therefore, only be two urban cuts during 2018/19.  

GROOMBRIDGE PLAYAREA UPDATE: A meeting was held on 8th March at 8pm at The Junction Inn, of enthusiastic volunteers raring to get started on developing the current Groombridge Play Area. Anyone wishing to volunteer to help is welcome. Details of contacts are in our WPC newsletter and on the WPC website. 

WITHYHAM CHARITY: Canon James Campbell had written to the Clerk to confirm that they were now in a position to invite the Parish Council to appoint two Trustees to work alongside the two Churchwardens and Rector of St Michaels and All Angels for the Withyham Charity. Two councillors will be following up on this.

GENERAL DATA PROTECTION REGULATIONS (GDPR) : A paper outlining actions required for the Parish Council to comply with the new GDPR, had been circulated prior to the Council meeting. Council agreed that this would be a priority for the Clerks as the regulations are to come into effect from 25th May. The clerks and lead councillor will be undertaking training, followed by Councillors. Any local businesses, clubs and societies which hold individuals’ personal data such as contact details should also do so. Useful information can be found at ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/, particularly the guide ‘12 Steps To Take Now’.

WEALDLINK: Volunteer drivers needed - if you are interested, please contact them on 4weald.co.uk/ or 01892 771332.

Next Parish Council Meeting: Monday 9th April 2018 at 7.30pm 

Diana Kelly: Chair         Anne Jenkins: Vice Chair

Clerks at 01892 864557/ clerk@withyhamparishcouncil.org.uk