Minutes of the January 2017 Executive Committee

Minutes of the 281st Executive Committee meeting held on Saturday on Saturday 7 January 2017 at CPRE Protect Kent offices in Charing

Present:           John Walker (Chairman) (JW), Jessamy Blanford (JB), Christine Furminger (CF), Philip Robinson (Hon Treasurer) (PR) and Alastair Todd (AT).

1          Apologies for absence were received from Crispin Davies (CD).

2          Minutes of Previous Executive Committee Meeting on 8 November 2016 - The minutes were deferred until the next meeting.

3          Matters arising - Matters arising were also left until the next meeting.

4          Chairman’s Report:

JVW reported that the East Kent merger would not be proceeding and Simon Cook (Canterbury CC) had said if this the case, Canterbury would not go ahead either.  KCC proposing a free conference centred in Maidstone on 28 February, which would be looking at Kent.  KALC considered a conference a good idea – were we still keen?   

A general discussion then took place.  It was suggested that an abridged form of “Strange Death of Municipal England” could be circulated to generate interest: this is a crisis waiting to happen.  Conference speakers might suggest different models of progress, also as to how local authorities might increase income.  Perhaps reviewing West/East Kent situation.  Speakers: Ray Evison (KALC), Paul Carter (KCC), Gerry Clarkson (Leader for Ashford) and Simon Cook.

Local authority finances depleting – what will happen in the future?  Delegates were being invited to participate in this discussion.  Crisis of representation as opposed to a crisis of spending.

It was pointed out that the Prince’s Foundation Report was discussing question of cost of houses and a better distribution of monies which go to the Land Registry.  Landowners have more responsibility than they realise - selling to the highest bidder is not good.  Should be insistence on quality, more control and a design brief.  In larger schemes, the builder should have more control and get involved in design.  Developers look to increase their own profits – should not be ruled by this.

The point was made that the extent to which local councils are tied to legal restrictions is exaggerated.  Under localism, their powers are wider and they can act.  Tunbridge Wells not using compulsory purchase, for example, and consider their input should be merely a management one.  Local plan thinking is inside the box rather than creatively.  The requirement for a five year supply of land, which needed constant topping up, meant that sites previously considered unsuitable should be looked at again.

5          Events Programme:

The AGM would take place on 20 May at Lenham Community Hall.  It was suggested that Philip Whitbourn could speak on conservation areas.  English Heritage?  AT would check.

Arrangements to be discussed with CD: 9.30 am for 10 am start, finishing at 2 pm.  Sandwich lunch.  Numbers to be given a week before – 40 hoped for.

A possible autumn event would be discussed at a later date.

6          Secretary/Membership Secretary’s Report - The Secretary regretted lack of progress due to her recent move.

7          Treasurer’s Report - There were no receipts from member societies during this period.

8          Society Issues:

Concern was voiced as to how much was being spent by KCC on roads and repairs.  Expenditure was supposed to be large on pot holes.  There was confusion as to responsibility between local authorities and County Council.  Both Canterbury and Tunbridge Wells were not managing with the present system: rubbish was appalling.  Responsibility for roundabouts differs from place to place.

The question of pollution was raised.  Levels are not good in Tunbridge Wells and they exceeded safe levels around Canterbury and Ashford.  The only suggestion for a solution to the problem of heavy traffic was a model shift.

9          Any Other Business - There was nothing further to report.

10         Date of Next Meeting - 4 March 2017 at 10 a.m. in CPRE (Protect Kent) offices in Charing.

The meeting closed at 12.15 p.m.