Hextable Parish Council
 
 

News

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General Election Hustings
May 17, 2017

Hustings Event on Friday 2nd June at St. Peters Church in Hextable.

Come and meet the prospective candidates for the 8th June General Election.

Doors open at 6.30pm for refreshments and questions will commence promptly at 7.00pm.

Organised by Churches Together in Swanley & District

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Election of Councillor to Kent County Council: Results
May 06, 2017

The results can be viewed here.

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Sevenoaks District Council Refuse Sacks
April 27, 2017

Residents have been reporting to the Parish Office that they have not received rubbish sacks for some time.

The Clerk has made enquiries at Sevenoaks District Council on behalf of the residents in certain roads as she had previously been told that deliveries were starting in Hextable on 20th March.

District Council officers advised that residents needed to report this themselves to the District Council and not via the Parish Clerk. Your Parish Clerk is here to help and has tried to report the problem but District officers will not take the report from her so if you have not yet received your rolls of black and clear sacks please contact Sevenoaks District Council on 01732 227000.

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HEXTABLE INDOOR MARKET
Every Monday, 9:30 a.m - 12:00 p.m. at Hextable Village Hall

March 28, 2017

For more details please visit the markets facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Hextablevillagemarket/

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Keeping Hextable Clean
April 14, 2017

On Saturday 8th April a team of volunteers, headed by Andy Lawrence, kindly gave up their morning to pick up litter, dropped by people who have tragically yet to figure out what a Bin is and how to use one.

The teams great work resulted in 9 bags of rubbish being collected. They also spotted numerous charming items dumped along Lower Road that were too large to move; a freezer, a tyre, floor covering and a rubble sack.

Finally, hundreds of nitrous cartridges were discovered and collected. Andy has reported this to the police.

Andy is keen to arrange another litter pick in a few months so please keep an eye on the News for details if you would like to help keep Hextable tidy.

In the meantime, the Parish would like to thank all those involved; Andy Lawrence, Louise Young, Trudie Stone, Janice and Ron Burroughs, Christine and Andy Proudlove. A special mention to Guy at Sutton United FC, who provided drinks and biscuits for the pickers.

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Pot hole blitz!
April 12, 2017

Pothole Blitz Launch 2017

Kent County Council launched its 2017 pothole blitz on 3 April. We are spending an extra £2.4million to repair local roads in Kent throughout spring and summer.

We used a team of local contractors for last year’s pothole blitz and they successfully delivered more than 1,300 individual pothole repairs and 56,510 square meters of larger road repairs. We have made an early start on this year’s pothole blitz by using the same contractors to repair potholes in April.

We would really value your local knowledge and support to help us make sure that we target roads that are important to your community. The quickest way to do this is to use our new online fault reporting tool available on our website www.kent.gov.uk/highways. We’ve made the form simpler and quicker to use, especially from mobile phones and tablets.

You can keep in touch with us and find out what repairs are being carried out by following our new KCC Highways Facebook page (www.facebook.com/KentHighways) and on Twitter (@KentHighways - we’ll be tagging all our pothole posts with the hashtag #Kentpotholes).

We will be publishing updates throughout the campaign, including ‘before and after’ photographs (taken as proof of quality workmanship), films of the crews showing how they repair both individual potholes and larger road repairs as well as live information about the whereabouts of crews so that you can spot our crews in your area.

The pothole blitz work is being carried out in addition to our normal maintenance work, and we are still continuing with our Keep Kent Clean campaign, which has seen our crews out across the county cleaning signs, re-painting white lines and maintaining shrubs. You can find out all about our Keep Kent Clean campaign on Facebook www.facebook.com/KeepKentClean  or using searching #keepkentclean on Twitter.

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Safer School Zones
Feb 27, 2017

Safer School Zones are being introduced close to primary schools in Swanley in order to tackle dangerous and inconsiderate parking.

Sevenoaks District Council has teamed up with Kent County Council to introduce the zones following calls from parents, schools and school crossing patrol ‘lollypop’ people to improve safety and traffic flow during the busy drop off and pick up times.

Areas around schools with Keep Clear areas, lollypop crossings and yellow lines will be designated as Safer School Zones where stopping or parking will not be allowed.

Highly visible Safer School Zone signs will be put up at the approaches and exits to the Zones. Civil Enforcement Officers (better known as traffic wardens) will carry out extra patrols and will issue an immediate fine if they see a vehicle stopping in a Safer School Zone.

So far three schools have signed up for safer parking zones: St Bartholomew's Catholic Primary School, High Firs Primary School and St Mary's CoE Primary School.

Cllr Matthew Dickins, Sevenoaks District Council’s Cabinet Member for Direct and Trading Services, says: "Concerned parents, teachers and others have asked for our help in tackling the problem of children being placed in harm’s way by the small minority of motorists who, when parking near schools, choose to do so in a dangerous or inconsiderate location. With the introduction of Safer School Parking Zones, we'll be putting safety first and taking a zero tolerance approach with any driver who flouts the rules."

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Flytipping
Feb 09, 2017

Hextable suffers from fly-tipping on highways, footpaths and public land, if residents see fly-tipping they should please report it promptly (at any time) to Sevenoaks District Council on 01732 227000.

If out-of-hours, an automated message will tell you that the SDC offices are closed – but hang on until the end of their recorded message at which point you will get through to a real person in the Council’s CCTV Control Room.

Please supply a description of the waste and approximate bulk so that SDC know what size of lorry to send, and if there might be hazardous waste included in there and its exact location as just naming a road may not be close enough for them to find easily, especially if there is a second heap of fly-tipping in the same road. It would be helpful to state exactly when you first spotted the waste as well, which might be of some use in tracking down a culprit.

Taking photographs is also good, but please do not put yourself at risk of being run over or of being assaulted.  If you see the fly-tipping incident in progress you can dial 101 – but do still note a description of the vehicle and culprit(s), and the registration if not hidden; direction of travel; and date/time - provided it is safe to do so.

Please do not move the waste (unless blocking your way) nor open sacks in order to try and find incriminating evidence, because if the rubbish is tampered with, it invalidates any evidence-gathering.

If the fly-tipping is on private land it is the responsibility of the land-owner only and there is little the Council can do to assist unless there is a public health issue as well, and this would include the dumping of animal carcasses  etc.  The Council cannot investigate fly-tipping on private land - but where a landowner wishes to share evidence or information about possible offenders (for intelligence purposes only) they should call SDC on 01732 227000 during normal working hours.

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The Village Hall

 

The Parish Council, as the local authority, may only state facts so in light of recent comments, rumour and speculation the situation regarding the Village Hall is reported below.

1980 - Community Hall built on KCC land with the owner registered as KCC. 

A 21 yr lease (ending 2001) between KCC and The Scout Assoc Trust in London required rent to be paid to KCC. The rent was described as ‘fair market rack rental’ with rent reviews in the 7th and 14th year.  There were no free or subsidised use periods.  The lease states:

                         ‘At the expiration (2001) or sooner determination of the said term peaceably to surrender

                         and yield up to the landlord’. 

     This lease did not therefore provide for another lease.

Documents available: 1980 Lease, 1990 Deed of Variance and the agreed 1978 Heads of Terms.

(Other documents may be available but these facts are from the documents transferred to HPC in 2008.)

1991 - Swanley Town Council obtained the freehold from KCC

Along with the hall, the council obtained the freehold for the Heritage Centre, the Gallery, the ATC building, the car park and Hextable Gardens.

2001 - Lease with Swanley Town Council Expired  

When the lease ended, a new lease was not granted by Swanley Town Council, nor did the Scouts attempt to renew the lease. There were no Scouts. The hall was not used, and the building deteriorated badly. West Kingsdown and Swanley Scouts used the building for free storage. Swanley Town Counci confirm they have no record of the Scouts’ paying rent once the lease ended.    

March 2006 - Letter from the clerk to Swanley Town Council

Some 5 years later, in a letter dated 21st March 2006, the Swanley Town Clerk confirms in a report to full council at Swanley Council, regarding not having offered a lease to The Scout Association Trust. The Town Clerk confirms there is no Scout Group in Hextable and states

‘...and also my original concern about the lease as the local Scout group were struggling and subsequently folded.’

November 2006 - Email from Swanley Scouts

An email dated 5th November 2006 from the Swanley Scout Leader also confirms there is no Scout Group in Hextable.  

2008 - Transfer of Ownership

In May 2008, after the creation of Hextable Parish Council, the ownership of all the former Swanley Town Council assets in Hextable transferred to the new Parish, including this unused building.  The new Parish Council intended to use the building but inherited a 7 yr lease that was produced between Swanley Town Council and the Scouts, dated 10th January 2006.   This date in January 2006 was 3 months before the Town Council resolved, and the Town Clerk confirmed, in March 2006 that the Town Council would NOT be offering a lease to the Scouts. The lease was not signed by the Town Clerk or the Deputy, it was signed by a community officer. 

The issue of the lease is ‘confusing’ and legal advice was that this should be tested in court. Councillors were keen to have a good relationship with the Scouts and decided to honour the lease regardless. The Parish Council and the community patiently waited for the years to pass.

From 2007 onwards attempts were made, encouraged by the Parish Council, for the Scouts to restart a Scout group, and a small number of Scouts were enrolled but due to lack of maintenance, the building became unfit for use. The wiring was unsafe, the drains blocked, the toilets were unsanitary and the building was cold, dark and damp. There were also some insurance concerns. The hall did not comply with basic health and safety and fire regulations. 

The Parish Council, as the freeholder, is responsible for the safety of the building so some basic work was done to make the building safe to use, this was paid out of local council tax.   The Parish Council quickly became concerned that the Scouts could not safely manage the hall, and the rent they paid would not cover the required repair and running costs.

As the freeholder, the Parish Council has the duty to ensure that all of its buildings and assets are safe, hygienic, properly maintained and insured.  It was recognised that a high level of investment was required to bring the building up to a basic standard to meet basic legal requirements to make it fit for use.

The Council considered the options, either to close the hall, or commit to a level of investment for upgrading the hall, and the necessary on-going maintenance, and cleaning costs.  The latter would be funded by the hiring out of the hall for the benefit of residents.  This option would mean that the hall could be run and funded without the need of a subsidy from council tax payers. 

(A report on the condition of the hall was served on the Scouts and is available).  The Council received no cooperation.     

2011 - Formal Negotiatons commence

HPC entered into formal negotiations with the Scouts and by 2012 the lease had ended. A Schedule of Dilapidation was served on the Scouts (available). This was ignored.

2013 - Hall Licence

In recognition of the Scouts work in the original construction, they were offered a licence for free use of the Village Hall on 3 evenings a week, plus other times for extra Scout events – this use to be subsidised from local residents’ council tax. The Scouts helped draft the wording, and after significant legal expense responding to the Scouts, a Licence was signed 2nd Oct 2013.

The Licence Agreement:

The Parish Council would renovate the building and pay all the running costs including rates, insurance, utilities, cleaning and maintenance.

The Scouts to have free use on 3 evenings a week plus extra Scout events. This would enable the Scout group to continue with security for their future and provide a community facility for residents to use at other times.

The Parish Council to use the building at other times to raise the money to run the hall. 

2013/14 - Hall Investment Programme

Over the last 24 months, Hextable Parish Council has carried out substantial works to vastly improve the building and bring it up to standard, and into a facility the community can be proud of.  The following work has been completed so far:

  • Wiring and plumbing work

  • Insulated the loft

  • Decorated the main hall and other areas of the building

  • Installed two new external double doors

  • New internal doors

  • New ladies and mens toilets

  • Provided a disabled toilet

  • Baby changing facilities

  • New lighting

  • Community Roomfor meetings and office use

The building is now warm, clean and light. This was paid by grants obtained by the Parish Council and Parish money from local council tax. The building is now well used by various village groups and clubs as well as for one off events such as wakes, receptions, school holiday events and parties. It is a community asset. 

A Management Committee was set up with a representative from each of the regular users of the building  to ensure it is run by the community in accord with the demands and wishes of the community that use the facility. The committee decided the priority of the renovation work and deals with various ongoing management duties. This month, as they did in previous years, the Committee members put a Christmas tree in the main hall and decorated it for the enjoyment of everyone over the festive season. The Parish Council would like to thank the volunteers of the Management Committee for their work over the past couple of years.       

The Parish Council is pleased that the Scout numbers have increased since the hall has been renovated and the groups are now thriving.

2014/15 - Bookings

Problems arose regarding a number of Scout bookings made but not used for the main hall, particularly for weekends, resulting in an increasing loss of income to the Parish as other bookings were unable to be accepted.  

Problems also arose regarding Scout bookings not accommodated due to the main hall being booked on the dates requested. Alternative dates or facilities were offered.

24th July 2015 Letter from the solicitor of the Scouts warning of notice of possible Court Action.

Future of the Hall

Hextable Parish Council inherited a badly maintained building that was not fit for purpose.  Over the past few years, we have transformed the hall into a good community asset, which is now used by a thriving scout group, many local village clubs and groups, and regularly used for social events. 

The parish council use residents money to subsidise the hall, pay for the fixed overhead costs (gas, electricity, insurance, cleaning, waste disposal and council tax) which equates to approximately £5000 per annum. 

Advance Bookings

The Parish Council has an obligation to use public money wisely and efficiently, and for the benefit of all our residents.  Therefore it is necessary that the hall represents a good use of taxpayers money, so we aim to ensure the village hall remains financially viable.  It is our absolute priority that we are able to maximise the opportunities to hire the hall, to at least cover the costs of running it.  The additional and one off investment costs have been made to bring the facility up to a standard by which an income can be generated. We now have a hall that can be hired to residents and organisations.

However, this strategy is only achievable if the Parish Council is able to secure advance bookings.  The inability to make advance bookings, reduces significantly the income to the council towards covering the fixed running costs.  The council have turned down many advance bookings as we have not been able to confirm that dates would not be booked by the scouts, which has resulted in a loss of income. 

It is not a sustainable position for the parish council to be subsidising the village hall for just a very small minority of users.  Should the hall prove to be a financial burden on our council tax payers, the viability of keeping the hall open will need to be considered.

Proposals

Advance Bookings

A proposal that may assist the Scouts is for the Scouts to give the Parish Clerk their extra bookings at the start of each term or every 3 months whichever is preferred by the Scouts. This way the Clerk could be more certain that the dates are kept free for Scout use.

Although there may be long term club bookings or regular bookings which would be difficult to cancel, this should alleviate some of the problems.  All regular bookings, such as Hexara (active retired) and dog club, are known to the Scouts and they are asked to avoid these times and dates if possible so we don’t have to cancel regular users.

The Council is advised that this is a very workable proposal for both the Scouts and the Parish Council and a sensible compromise.         

Storage

The Council has previously offered the following 3 proposals regarding storage and did so again in writing recently:

  • The Council to pay for and provide a secure storage container in the grounds of the Gardens for the Scouts’ sole use.

  • The Community Room at the front of the building to become the storage room.

  • Scouts’ to retain the current storage room in the main hall for storage.

Meeting between the Scout Leaders and the Parish Council

The Parish Council has repeatedly invited the Scout Leader of the Hextable Scouts to a meeting to resolve their concerns but unfortunately he has not attended. Other people representing the Scouts have attended, although not the Scout Pack Leaders or decision makers.

The Parish Council is extremely willing to meet the Hextable Scout Leader and the Council is available to attend a meeting any time that is convenient to the Scouts.

There are many opportunities available for discussion.  Members of the council are always available at the end of Council and Committee Meetings on the dates advertised on the Notice Board outside the Post Office. We also hold advertised monthly Councillors’ Surgeries on Saturdays.  An appointment can be made with the Parish Clerk for any time convenient to the Scout Leaders, and this remains the situation. Hextable residents are very welcome to attend any meeting arranged with the Scout Leader. 

The Parish Council is anxious to avoid court costs which will be at an expense to residents, so an early meeting of the Scout Leader and HPC is vital. 

The Parish Council was made aware of the current contact for the scouts and a request was sent on 16th November requesting to meet with the Hextable Scout leader. This contact could not deal with arrangements for a meeting.  On the 26th November, the council was again provided with the same contact details for the Scouts’.

Two representatives from the Scouts did eventually meet councillors on Monday evening the 23rd November, but unfortunately the representatives in attendance were not decision makers, nor did they have the authority to agree any compromises put to them by councilors and they did not have any proposals from the Scouts. They invited the council to write to the Scouts with compromise proposals. The Council’s proposals were confirmed in writing on the evening of the 23rd November.

Hextable Parish Council

Saturday 28th November 2015

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New parking enforcement plans to help locals

Sevenoaks District Council is set to issue Penalty Charge Notices to drivers who park across dropped kerbs outside residents' homes.
The Council already carries out enforcement action against drivers who park across dropped kerbs at junctions that are intended to make it easier for parents with pushchairs, mobility scooters and wheelchair users to cross the road.
Sevenoaks District Council is now extending this enforcement to include residential dropped kerbs. Generally these kerbs are lowered to enable vehicles to access private driveways and garages.
In the past residents who found their driveway blocked by a vehicle could call the police to deal with the matter. Now they can contact the Council’s Parking Services Team and ask a Civil Enforcement Officer to attend and issue a Penalty Charge Notice. The Council will inform the caller when an Enforcement Officer can attended, which will depend on the Officer's location and the location of the offence.
Cllr Matthew Dickins, the Council’s Cabinet Member for parking, says: "This service will benefit our residents whose lives are blighted by a minority of inconsiderate and selfish drivers who block access to their properties. At the same time we will take a common sense approach to applying this policy by only issuing tickets to drivers who have made it difficult or impossible for residents to enter or leave their property."
Residents should call the Council on 01732 227000 or e-mail
parking@sevenoaks.gov.uk to ask for a Civil Enforcement Officer to attend their property.

 


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  Foxes:

There has been an increase in the number of foxes seen in the village in recent months - they are bold and often seen during the day now. There is an article in our latest newsletter about how to deter foxes, you can also contact the Kent based Fox Project, who provide ambulances for injured foxes, on 01892 731565. The deterrent helpline number is 01892 826222.

 Please read our newsletter page for more detailed news items