Annual Parish Meeting 2020 – Postponed

Due to the current situation with the Coronavirus, and worries of public gatherings, the meeting has been postponed and will be re-arranged.

Chairman’s Report

HIGHWAYS

The Parish Council continues to report to KCC Highways incidents of potholes, flooding, drainage etc. Action is sometimes slow and with the ever-increasing traffic in the parish, the situation is serious. We will continue to report and follow up.

The PC has been in discussions over a number of years with KCC Highways, and as a result is pleased to hear a traffic calming scheme in New Barn Road by the pond is being proposed. The next proposed scheme may be a traffic calming scheme in Betsham.

KCC Highways is responsible for issues on roads or hedges adjacent to roads and we would appreciate it if residents would report issues direct on www. kent.gov.uk/roads-and-travel

 

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

The Parish Council is pleased that KCC agreed to part fund our 489 and 474/475 services at the same level to 2021. Timekeeping remains good and despite some traffic hold ups, service is friendly.

ENVIRONMENT

Our long-term programme of spring bulb plantings and colourful tree and hedging items has an increasing impact on the parish. In the Kent Men of Trees 2019 competition we were awarded a “Highly Commended” Certificate and a Hornbeam tree. We are planting various species of shrubs for flowering berries and Autumn colour. Some of the bulb planting has been damaged by utility companies, KCC will follow this up to request re-instatement and seeding of the areas that have been damaged. The PC is vigilant in trying to protect established trees in the Parish and will ask for replacement trees during the planning process if trees are to be felled.

A big thanks to our several litter pickers throughout the parish. They carry out their excellent work in all seasons. Dartford Borough Council is responsible for the collection of fly-tipping, damaged highways signs, issues with DBC owned properties etc. and we would appreciate it if residents would report issues direct on www.dartford.gov.uk

HERITAGE

We have continued to erect Heritage signs throughout the parish as a reminder of the old names for our hamlets. The latest sign to be erected will be “Broadditch” We appreciate resident’s response.

HOUSEHOLD WASTE SERVICES

With the General Election over, we continue our dialogue with MP Gareth Johnson for provision of an extra unit to serve the Ebbsfleet Garden City area. Pepperhill is overloaded, as is at times the DBC owned recycling bay in New Barn Road. The charges at the Unit have not helped with fly tipping, which is seriously increasing. DBC had assured us that they do investigate reports of fly tipping and arrests have been made

PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY

We have built up a good relationship with our own KCC Footpaths Officer, however, PROWs are not high on KCC’s priorities. Their current Environment Policy dated 2017 mentions supporting healthy options such as walking, but funding could be much better. The PC, therefore, has used some of its Community Infrastructure Levy to fund a safety barrier in Station Road, a handrail on the path from Betsham to Southfleet and more signage.

Please walk the official footpaths, let us know of obstructions, and please keep dogs on lead, and at heal particularly on paths adjacent to farm animals. (it is good to see we have them back in Southfleet) Please also follow advice on dog fouling and disposal in the bins provided around the parish. Many of our footpaths are centuries old and part of our heritage. Please help us to keep them in good order.

PLANNING, THE GREEN BELT AND LISTED BUILDINGS

A subject high on public agendas.  The PC studies and responds to all planning applications that it is consulted on by the Planning Authority Dartford Borough Council. The PC has a longstanding policy to protect the Green Belt, Conservation and Areas of Special Character such as Broadditch. The Parish Council bases their independent view on experience and history of the site, Planning Policy and the effect on neighboring properties. Two years ago, in a New Local Plan consultation, it showed landowner’s wishes to develop Green Belt land for housing. This caused disquiet amongst residents; however, the most recent Local Plan shows DBC has committed to keeping the Green Belt as it is, and no Development sites have been agreed. This is not to say Landowners will not appeal when the Plan is presented to the Government Inspector later this year.

SOUTHFLEET MEMORIAL FUND

This charity was set up in 1956 when the Parish Council received from the Charity Commission monies from the sale of Memorial Cottage. SMF is not related in any way to the Board of Trustees formed in 1921, whose purpose was to manage Memorial Cottage when it was home to the District Nurse, and which wound up circa 1949 when the cottage was sold off to KCC.

This charity was created in November 1956 as per the first minute book with the title Southfleet Sick Poor Fund. The name was changed to Southfleet Memorial Fund in the 1990’s.

The activities of the fund are in strict confidence between Trustees and in compliance with GDPR.

Accounts for 2019/2020 Southfleet Memorial Fund accounts 2020

AUDIT FOR THE YEAR 2018/2019

AND PRECEPT FOR THE YEAR 2020/2021

The 2018/2019 Audit was carried out last July and once again the Auditors cleared our accounts. The official notices were displayed in May and September advertising parishioners’ rights to inspect the Accounts- however no one asked to see the accounts.

In setting its Precept we were aware of other significant Council Tax increases; therefore, it was resolved at the December Parish Council meeting to raise the Precept by only 1%.

Members of the Parish Council do not take a Councillor’s Allowance (which the law entitles them to), and many expenses are not claimed.

THE PARISH COUNCIL

The Parish Councils principles: We are vigilant with expenditures, we listen, communicate and improve where we can. Members are subject to a Code of Conduct which ensures transparency in all our dealings and reassures the public. The PC warmly welcomes all those residents recently arrived in Southfleet.

 WWW.SOUTHFLEETPC.KENTPARISHES.GOV.UK

For information on historical facts, important dates, Agendas, Minutes of meetings and news, please access our website. We update the site on a monthly basis. If you would like to join our email distribution list for news bulletins, info, road closures etc., please email the Clerk on clerk@southfleetpc.kentparishes.gov.uk with your name, address and telephone number.

THE GENERAL DATA PROTECTION REGULATION

The Parish Council is bound by this legislation i,e the UK rules of 2008 and the EU rules 2018, this legislation will not be affected by Brexit. The data received from parishioners will consist only of their name, address, telephone number and email address which will be held on the Parish Council computer system managed by the Clerk only and not shared with anyone. Parishioners have the right to amend their details at any time or remove them. Information emails sent by the Clerk will be sent by “blind copy”

The Parish Council wishes its resident’s well, and will continue to serve the parish

in its long-established independent way.

 

Finance Report

Last financial year the Parish Council was yet again strict with its housekeeping and did not incur any routine unnecessary costs.

Income: In addition to the Precept, the PC applied for a grant and received £2775 from the DBC Capacity Building fund to purchase a heritage sign for Broadditch, more protective bollards in Station Road to protect pedestrians on the low level footpath and the refurbishment of the Betsham Seat.  We are holding £5867 Community Infrastructure Levy payment from DBC for new house builds from previous years and have spent £1000 on a safety barrier in Station Road by the footpath and a safety wall in Red Street by the bus shelter. This money should be used within 5 years on projects in the parish which could include Highways schemes. The Parish Council is still investigating the possibility of installing a bus shelter in New Barn Road and the corner of Red Street to protect passengers from the bad weather who wait for the bus and coaches in the mornings.

The expenditure includes as usual The Clerks salary, insurance, hire of the Village Hall, donations, Audit fees, stationery, publications and bulbs to enhance the parish. It also purchased a new laptop to update its technology..

Next year, we have budgeted for donations and community projects that may arise. In the next financial year we are hoping to apply for the DBC Capacity Building fund again and will be discussing schemes in the coming weeks

Councillors do not claim any allowances.

There was an internal and external audit this year and District Audit were satisfied that procedures are being carried out in accordance with current regulations. The Audit Notice was displayed on the noticeboard following the legal requirements; and there were no requests to study the accounts from residents. All our procedures are in accordance with the law, as our Minutes and audit results show.

The Parish Council is very mindful of the economic climate, and agreed only a 1% increase on last year’s precept. Therefore the total received from 2020/2021 will be £8989 this equates to each household paying an average of £16 per year towards the Parish Council precept.