Hextable Parish Council

Sevenoaks District Council Information

Hundreds of runners help raise cash for local dementia services
June 21, 2018

Sevenoaks District Council secures over £1.2m to fund local projects

Local projects have been given over £1.2m worth of investment helping to improve the District, after Sevenoaks District Council secured the funds from developers.

The funding was agreed at a Cabinet meeting on 7 June with seven different projects across the District gaining support from the Council.

Larger investment projects included over £1m to improve both Swanley and Bat and Ball railway stations, seeing improvements such as cycle spaces, better signage and increased foot pathing as well as £101,365 to improve the standard of the Darent Valley Path.

This project would see a transport corridor through the Darent Valley, providing an alternative to car journeys for both visitors and residents, making further provision for cyclists to use the path or an alternative parallel route, as well as enhancing routes to local train stations to encourage sustainable travel.

Other projects included £100,000 to replace the current Sevenoaks Day Centre Nursery building and £29,000 for the Upper Darent Flood Alleviation Scheme to reduce the risk of flooding along the A25 corridor.

Over £18,000 was also allocated to rebuild Westerham town centre public toilets, including a unisex disabled toilet and baby changing facilities, whilst £3000 was given to renovate Four Elms playground, bringing in new play equipment, seating and bins.

Sevenoaks District Council Portfolio Holder for Planning, Cllr Robert Piper, says: “We’re very happy we have been able to secure this money to support such a diverse range of projects ranging from improving local railway stations, to renovating public toilets and children’s playgrounds.

“This funding is going to finance some very important projects to improve the lives of our residents across our District which otherwise may never have been able to get the green light.

“We look forward to seeing these projects benefitting our residents over the coming years.”

Sevenoaks District Council Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Cllr Roddy Hogarth, also added: “This is another example of how the Council is key to enabling Economic and Community Development by supporting the priorities set by local needs, in line with the Council’s official EcoDev Strategy."

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Spending Board agreed the funding at a Cabinet meeting on 7 June.

The funding becomes available after CIL contributions had been collected on qualifying developments and Sevenoaks District Council passed on a portion of the contributions to Town and Parish Councils.

Hundreds of runners help raise cash for local dementia services
May 21, 2018

Run, Walk or Push against Dementia returned to Knole Park for a second time and sprinted to victory after some 450 participants raised money for local dementia services on Sunday 13 May.

Residents from all over the District and beyond turned out in full force to take on one of the timed 3, 5 or 10 kilometre courses helped by perfect weather conditions.

Sevenoaks District Council worked in partnership with the Sevenoaks Area Dementia Friendly Community to organise the event, as the spirit of the day was fully embraced with residents running the course alongside their families, with their dogs and even pushing youngsters along in pushchairs.

The event will have once again raised thousands of pounds for the Sevenoaks Area Dementia Friendly Community who will use the money to fund local dementia services and projects.

Competitors of all abilities were welcomed on the day but it was Martin Cornwell-McKeown who made it round first on the 10k course, Stephen Yau quickest on the 5k course and Alice Daniell finishing first on the 3k course.

Sevenoaks District Chairman, Cllr Larry Abraham who was on hand at the finish line to give out the medals, says: “Once again we are overwhelmed with such an incredible turnout on the day and seeing so many people passionately getting involved and doing their bit for such an important cause.

“This event really is for everyone, of any age, any size and any species as I was very pleased to see so many canine companions this year!

“Dementia is something that will affect everyone in one way or another and I think that shows with the amount of people who joined us. They should all be very proud of what they achieved this weekend.”

Elaine Ferris who co-chairs the Sevenoaks Area Dementia Friendly Community with Symone Salman, added: “We were delighted to work with Sevenoaks District Council again this year and deliver a glitch free family fun event that shows the support of the community is behind us.

“The money raised goes solely to local projects and services for people living with dementia, memory and cognition issues. We will be able to open a new Forget-Me-Not café and start a much requested singing group along with continuing our three existing Forget-Me-Not cafés. Thank you to all those who helped on the day to make it a joyful experience for all.”

Photos from the event and participants’ timings can be viewed at www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/runwalkpush where residents can also still donate.

Court orders closure of former Swanley convent site
May 21, 2018

A former Swanley convent has been ordered by the courts to close for three months following anti-social behaviour and safety concerns.

The case brought about by Sevenoaks District Council, with the support of partner agencies, was heard at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court on Friday 11 May 2018 under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2014).

Mr Mustafa Kemal Mustafa, the leaseholder of former The Convent of Mercy for the past four years, was told the property would be closed by the Council for up to three months with immediate effect.

Further court orders were granted allowing the Council to recover any costs for clearing, securing and maintaining the premises during the closure period.

The site had been subject to ongoing anti-social behaviour and safety concerns dating back to 2014.

• Kent Police have attended the site to follow up all reports, have seized a stolen vehicle from the site and have addressed reports of anti-social behaviour and crime
• The Council issued a Community Protection Warning and Community Protection Notice in January and October 2016 following anti-social behaviour and litter
• In April 2014, and again in January 2016, the Council served abatement notices for bonfire and noise nuisances
• The Council issued four informal warnings to clear up and repair the building between 2015 and 2016 and two further informal building control warnings following unauthorised building works
• Two planning enforcement notices were issued in 2016 following unauthorised building works that required planning permission
• No Council Tax had been paid on the property since 2014
• Following fire safety concerns, Kent Fire & Rescue Service issued an Improvement Notice in March 2016 and a Prohibition Notice in March 2017
• The Environment Agency issued a Stop Notice in June 2017 as there were concerns the site was being used as car repair business without permission
• The Health and Safety Executive served five safety notices following concerns about the safety of the electrical supply and other safety issues
• Other concerns related to untaxed vehicles based at the building and the sale of second-hand goods and other business activities without permission.

The property has now been closed and the electricity provider has cut off the supply and it was deemed a dangerous property.

Cllr Roddy Hogarth, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, says:
“Neighbours of the Convent of Mercy have endured unacceptable, anti-social behaviour for far too long and the safety of those living there was at risk. Despite the Council and its partners taking action on a range of issues, the property leaseholder and freeholders have failed to adequately deal with the problems. We take a zero tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour and it is right that we, with our partners’ help, took action to close this property to protect local people and others residing there.”

Kent Police Inspector, Nick Finnis, adds:
“The decision by the courts reflects the detrimental impact this location has been having on the local community, including to a large number of residents who live close by. Ultimately, antisocial behaviour issues can make people’s lives a misery and we hope the work undertaken with our partner agencies to help gather a case for this closure order will reassure the community that this type of activity will simply not be tolerated and that we will respond with appropriate action. We are grateful for the support also shown from residents and would continue to encourage members of the public to feel confident to report crime and antisocial behaviour via 101 or via our online reporting system: www.kent.police.uk.”

New Chairman brings 50 years of local knowledge to the hot seat
May 21, 2018

To say the new Sevenoaks District Council Chairman is somewhat of a local celebrity is a bit of an understatement as she brings five decades of community involvement into the role along with her lifelong partner for backup.

Cllr Pat Bosley, who represents Fawkham and West Kingsdown, takes the chains over from Cllr Larry Abraham in the same year she celebrates 50 years of marriage to fellow District Councillor, Ian Bosley after being elected at the Annual Council meeting on 15 May.

After conquering the big smoke of London with a secretarial career from Victoria to Fleet Street, Pat settled in West Kingsdown in 1968 where she got married and raised their two children, before throwing herself into her community work, helping out at the local play group, running pop-in cafes… and that’s just the start!

A District Councillor since 2006, Pat says: “I’m very much involved with the community, so much that popping into the shop for some milk could take an hour - it’s like running a local surgery!

“But I love to help people and if I take something on, I take it on 100%, so that has seen me explore many ventures such as being a school governor for 38 years, becoming secretary at the Village Hall, fundraising for St Edmunds church, to other things such as cooking the community a full English breakfast on the first Saturday of the month.”

With the aim of raising the awareness of physical and mental wellbeing across the District, Pat has already planted her stake firmly in the ground, being part of the team to get the Every Step Counts wellbeing walking groups off the mark as well as using her passion of singing to raise money for mental health projects with the Big Community Sing at the Stag Theatre on 21 June.

Her time in the Chairman chains will also help support her chosen charity, the Silas Pullen Fund, who raise money on behalf of the Brain Tumour Charity.

“Silas sadly passed away in 2013, and I recently met his mother who spoke about how she wouldn’t want any other parent to stand in front of a surgeon and hear there is nothing that can be done and most people don’t know that brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of young people so I’m determined to do all I can to change that.”

So, how does she feel about the upcoming year?

“I had such an exciting year as Vice-Chairman which has prepared me well for making the step up to Chairman, its shown me how many incredible people there are that do not get much recognition, but is people like that that make our District what it is.

“People ask me where I get my energy from, and I’ll be putting that energy into my year as Chairman – so we’re in for an exciting year!”

Pat welcomes invitations to attend community events. To invite her, visit www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/chairman, e-mail chairman@sevenoaks.gov.uk or call 01732 227247.

Follow her work over the next year by following her Twitter account at @SDC_Chairman.

Cllr John Edwards-Winser was also elected to the post of Vice Chairman at the same meeting.

The Big Community Sing - Thursday 21 June - 7pm - Stag Theatre
May 15, 2018

Catford resident fined for fly-tipping in Shoreham
May 15, 2018

A man has pleaded guilty to a fly-tipping offence in Shoreham, Kent after Sevenoaks District Council worked with two local residents who witnessed the offence.

Mark Wright, 50, of Evans Road, Catford was fined a total of £1,080 including Court costs, at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court on 27 April after the Council brought about the prosecution.

Mr Wright was seen ‘kicking and pulling’ 150kg of builders’ waste including wood and nails from a white Ford Transit van on 7 March 2017 at Castle Farm Road, Shoreham.

After driving away from the scene, spreading the materials 60 yards across the road, a witness called a nearby colleague who was able to photograph the registration plate.

The incident was then reported to the Council’s Environmental Enforcement Officers who gathered evidence and brought Mr Wright to Court.

Sevenoaks District Council Portfolio Holder for Direct Services, Cllr Matthew Dickins, says: “Once again we have successfully secured the prosecution of a criminal who showed complete disregard for the environment we cherish.

“Particular thanks go to the witnesses whose testimony was invaluable in gaining this result.

“Sevenoaks District Council is the only local authority in Kent to have a dedicated fly-tipping investigation team. We will continue to take a zero tolerance approach and bring fly-tippers to justice.”

Residents can report fly-tipping on public land and on the highway by calling 01732 227000.

'Pop-up Pop-ins' gifted £40k by Council to tackle loneliness in older people
April 03, 2018

With over 1.9 million older people across the nation feeling ignored or invisible and loneliness as harmful to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, Sevenoaks District Council has funded an innovative new project to help combat the issue.

Age UK Sevenoaks and Tonbridge have been given almost £40,000 to fund their ‘Pop-Up Pop-Ins’ project, helping older people across the District facing loneliness and isolation.

Sevenoaks District Council has funded the scheme through the Better Care Fund which will see weekly Pop-Up Pop-Ins organised at village halls and public houses across the District, providing older people and their families with a place to go for advice and information, as well as the chance to have a tea or coffee whilst meeting new people.

The money will fund a paid co-ordinator to arrange the events where people will also be offered free exercise taster sessions and advice on nutrition, falls prevention and guidance on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle as well as introducing them to nearby volunteering opportunities.

The co-ordinator will also be supported by the Council’s Housing and One You teams helping those effected by loneliness to benefit from making new friends, and getting more involved in their local community.

The weekly sessions will also give access to the Council’s existing services and referrals for funding for home improvements, helping to address physical and mental health issues which come from unsuitable accommodation.

Chief Officer for Age UK Sevenoaks and Tonbridge, Gillian Shepherd-Coates, says: “Age UK Sevenoaks and Tonbridge are delighted that we have been successful with the recent grant funding bid for ‘Pop Up Pop Ins’ for the South of the district. The Pop-ins will be a way that we can further our work in the community, providing an opportunity for lonely and isolated older people living in the rural communities, to get out of their homes and meet up for a coffee, a friendly chat and company. It will also enable them to access our many services, each designed to improve their health and wellbeing in later life.”

Sevenoaks District Council Cabinet Member for Housing and Health, Cllr Michelle Lowe, adds: "Loneliness can be toxic causing a range of mental and physical conditions. Our One You advisors are finding that many people make appointments to visit their GP simply because they are lonely or that their loneliness is causing health issues. In modern society where older people are often separated from their families they sometimes do not speak to another person for days or even weeks on end. In rural areas the isolation can be even worse.

“Sevenoaks District Council is determined to tackle loneliness as part of our ageing well strategy, which is why we are delighted to be able to fund this exciting project by Age UK. We offer a range of activities for older people to enjoy with others from Chair Yoga, to health walks such as Every Step Counts to dementia cafés for people living with dementia and their carers. This new service will help signpost people to the range of support services available to them. The best part is as the Age UK service goes to them - people in isolated, rural locations will also be able to access them."

Sevenoaks Scoops Two Top Awards for Pushing the Boundaries of Innovation
March 15, 2018

Sevenoaks District Council collected two prestigious public sector awards on Wednesday 6 March winning the iESE Gold Award for Transformation in Health and Social Care and Civic Office of the Year.

The iESE Gold Award for Transformation in Health and Social Care was in recognition of the Council's unique approach to delivering health and wellbeing services.

iESE (The Improvement and Efficiency Social Enterprise) works with public sector organisations to help them deliver the best possible services at the best possible cost.

This award acknowledged the Council’s unique approach to delivering health and wellbeing services, including the West Kent Hospital Discharge scheme to help tackle NHS bed blocking. The scheme works with patients who are well enough to leave hospital but cannot return home for a variety of reasons, such as the necessity to move some furniture, the need for small but important home adaptions through to hoarding. The scheme also offers ongoing support so patients can continue to live independently. Since November 2017, 288 residents across the four council areas in the scheme have benefitted, saving the NHS a minimum of £129,000.

The award also praised the Council’s One You preventative health services and the Super HERO Advice Service which tackle the non-medical reasons why people visit their doctor, even if the symptoms are medical. Examples include anxiety caused by debt, asthma caused by damp housing, identifying people likely to fall and preventing it, symptoms caused by loneliness, lack of exercise and poor diet.

The Council’s Democratic Services team scooped the Civic Office of the Year award, promoted by the National Association of Civic Officers, for its work supporting the Council’s Chairman.

Most councils have a dedicated member of staff or a team supporting their Mayor or Chairman. But at ever-efficient Sevenoaks District Council, this work is carried out by Democratic Services.

The team’s primary job is organising, running and documenting Council meetings, including the publication of meeting agendas. But unlike most other councils, they promote the Chairman and manage his busy diary, with the Chairman attending some 300 events in any given year. They also organise events on behalf of the Chairman, including Armed Forces Day, Merchant Navy Day and Commonwealth Day celebrations.

Cllr Peter Fleming, the Council Leader, says: "These awards are proof that Sevenoaks District Council continues to bring forward unique services to positively change and improve the lives and opportunities of residents across the Sevenoaks District. It is great to see the work of the Chairman of the Council, in supporting and raising the profile of the amazing work of our community groups and volunteers recognised. Sevenoaks is a seriously different council and it is great to receive external recognition for our pioneering work."

May the forces be with you... as Run, Walk or Push against Dementia returns!
Feb 23, 2018

On your marks, get set, go! After the huge success of last year’s Run, Walk or Push against Dementia in Knole Park, it’s time to lace up those running shoes again as it returns in May, with representatives from Kent Fire and Rescue and the Kent Police force stepping up to the challenge.

With around five-hundred runners taking part last year, the event makes its comeback on Sunday 13 May and will once again include timed 3, 5 and 10k courses suitable for everyone from parents with pushchairs to seasoned runners.

Last year, over £4,500 was raised which helped fund dementia friendly projects across the District, such as the new Forget-me-not café in Knole which provides support and companionship to those who are living with memory issues or dementia.

Entry for the 3k and 5k runs is £13 for people aged over 16, and £5 for under 16s. Both distances are suitable for beginners, children and people with pushchairs. Ages four and under go free.

Entry for the 10k run is £18 and is intended for keen runners and not open to under 16s or people with pushchairs.

Everyone who crosses the line will receive a commemorative medal and entrants can take advantage of a range of other benefits such as a 10% discount in Up&Running in Sevenoaks and free running workshops courtesy of the Sevenoaks Ladies Joggers & Oaks Blokes to help them prepare for the big day.

Sevenoaks District Council Chairman, Cllr Larry Abraham, says: “We’re very happy to be able to support this event again and residents should be quick to sign up with 500 spaces available. Dementia is one of the leading causes of death in the UK and this event gives everyone the opportunity to not only improve their own health, but also raise money for people effected by the diseases.

“It’s great to see a bit of friendly competition between the Fire service and Police force, with many of their workforce signing up – we’ll see who comes out on top!”

Elaine Ferris and Symone Salwan who co-chair the Sevenoaks Area Dementia Friendly Community Forum, add: “We are delighted to be partnering with organisations committed to changing the lives of those living with dementia in our community. With the support of our District Commander of Kent Police, Director of Kent Fire & Rescue and the Kent Police & Crime Commissioner; all senior figures in our local public services who are running with us on the 13 May. We hope that this year’s event will be more inclusive and even more successful.

“Our Forget-Me-Not Cafés and Wellbeing Days have reduced isolation, enabled people to access support and brought joy to so many in the last year, the 2018 Run will enable us to continue these activities and we have new initiatives planned. Every pound helps us positively change people’s lives.”

To sign up and for further details visit www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/runwalkpush

Sajid Javid spends time in Sevenoaks
Feb 11, 2018

Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, came to Sevenoaks on Monday 5 February to find out about the District Council and to launch a scheme to help young people learn good digital habits.

The senior Cabinet Minister was keen to visit Sevenoaks District Council to hear about its recent successes, including winning Council of the Year 2017, how it became the first financially self-sufficient authority in the country and how it has led the way in local government innovation.

Mr Javid started his visit by launching the #DigitalSunsetChallenge at Sevenoaks Primary School with year 6 pupils.

The Council-backed scheme is aimed at primary school children, encouraging them and their families to put their smartphones and tech away early in the evening to aid sleep, learning and development.

The Challenge was founded by Cllr Anna Firth and local writer and journalist Linden Kemkaran with support from the Council and the Sevenoaks District Community Safety Partnership.

During the Challenge week, pupils choose a time in the early evening when they put their tech away. They write down the time they stopped using their devices, when they went to bed and how they felt the next day in their #DigitalSunsetChallenge booklet or they produce a video log.

The Sevenoaks District Community Safety Partnership is rolling out the #DigitalSunsetChallenge to 25 schools across the District. The launch was ahead of Safer Internet Day 2018, taking place on Tuesday 6 February.

Following the launch, Mr Javid spent the morning with Sevenoaks District Councillors to hear about its recent successes and future plans.

The Communities Secretary, Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, says: “I am delighted to launch the ‘Digital Sunset Challenge’ in Sevenoaks today. As a father of four I am acutely aware that we all have a part to play in equipping our children to use social media in a positive way. The pressure to be connected ‘24/7’ is now so strong that it is vital we teach younger children the importance of taking a break from the social media and the internet especially over-night. The ‘Digital Sunset Challenge’ is a great way of supporting children, schools and parents to do just that and it is fantastic to see the whole community coming together to help make Sevenoaks one of the safest places for children to be on-line in the UK”

Council Leader, Cllr Peter Fleming, says: “We’re so grateful to Sajid Javid who took time out of his busy schedule to meet us and to launch the #DigitalSunsetChallenge.

“We all know that mobile phones and other smart devices offer us huge new opportunities for learning, creativity and above all fun. But to get the best out of them, we have to learn when not to use them. Putting them away at least an hour before we go to bed has been shown to aid a good night’s rest, which is essential for young people to recover and to grow.

“We hope he found his time at the Council useful and will share our successes with others.”

Housing Needs of Local Employees and Local Businesses Survey
Feb 04, 2018

If you are a local employee or a local business and the cost of housing affects your ability to live and work locally or to recruit and retain staff, then you may be interested in taking part in a survey being carried out by Sevenoaks District Council.

The survey can be completed online at the following address: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/localemployeessurvey.  Alternatively, hard copies of the survey can be printed here.

The aim is to use the results to help develop new local plans and new housing policies for local employees and business.

Further information can be found on page 9 of the Autumn edition of the newsletter In Shape https://www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/downloads/file/1008/in_shape_104_-_autumn_2017.

There is currently no closing date for the survey. 

 Well-being walking group takes 30,000th step!
Dec 18, 2017

Sevenoaks District residents are well on the path to glory after taking a collective 30,000 steps with new well-being walking group Every Step Counts.

The group, also celebrating 10 weeks of walks, passed the thirty-thousand mark on Wednesday 29 November after setting off from their usual starting point at Otford Memorial Centre car park at 10am.

The new community wellbeing walk, organised and run entirely by volunteers with the help and support of the Council’s healthy living team and led by three qualified walk volunteers, Cllr Anna Firth, Jo Kingston and Irene Collins.

The walk is aimed at residents who may never have walked before but want to give it ago and also residents with a long term condition, overweight, lack fitness or simply lack the confidence and self-esteem to go out walking alone.

To celebrate the occasion, the walk was joined by Sevenoaks District Council Chairman, Cllr Larry Abraham, Vice-Chairman Cllr Pat Bosley as well as President of West Kent Mind, Pat Downing, Chief Officer of Age UK Sevenoaks & Tonbridge, Gillian Shepherd-Coates.

Cllr Michelle Lowe, Sevenoaks District Council Portfolio Holder for Housing and Health, says: “Just 15 minutes of walking per day has tremendous mental, physical and emotional health benefits. Every Step Counts is a great way for people who have not been able to walk for a variety of reasons to start short, gentle walks with the support of other like-minded people."

Sevenoaks District Council Chairman, Cllr Larry Abraham, adds: “The walk enables people to get fit without any pressure. If you’re looking to get back into fitness or just want some company, come on down and take the next step to well-being.”