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                          MERSHAM & SEVINGTON PARISH COUNCIL
Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on Monday, 16th April, 2007, in the St. John’s Church
     PRESENT: Mrs. J. Oakley-Hills (Chairman); Mr. C. Kibble; Mrs. S. Hadlow;
              Mr. J. Woodhouse; Mr. P. Hawkins; Mr. M. Smithers; Mr. T. Coultrip;
              Mr. J. Lightfoot; Cllr. P. Bartlett and 25 residents.

1.      Apologies for absence Mrs. V. Blakley (unwell)

2.      ‘Towards 2010’
        The Chairman welcomed Cllr. Keith Ferrin, KCC Cabinet Member for Environment,
        Transport and Waste, who showed the KCC film describing aspects of KCC’s ‘Towards
        2010’ programme. Cllr. Ferrin said that the film was not just publicity for KCC, but showed
        how this programme of actions is making a real difference. He mentioned two pilot
        schemes that are being launched in June for free public transport for 11-16 year-olds to
        reduce congestion. KCC are investing residents’ money from council tax or funding from
        the Govt. to look after people who cannot look after themselves. He highlighted the
        Telehealth and Telecare programmes, which make the elderly and those in poor health
        much safer in their own homes.

        As the Cabinet Member responsible for transport, Cllr. Ferrin said that he got ‘a lot of stick’
        about the roads. Services are never perfect and they all need to be weighed against other
        services – for young people, health, etc. Calculations have to be made at to what will make
        a difference. As well as helping those who can’t help themselves, KCC want to encourage
        people to take responsibility for themselves. For instance, it is what you do yourself as a
        driver that makes a difference to safety on the roads. Cllr. Ferrin then answered questions
        from parishioners.

        The point was made that locally, residents were suffering much more now from transport
        problems than in the past. There were problems of congestion, lorries parking overnight
        on local industrial estates, and cycling and walking was now very dangerous on local roads.
        Cllr. Ferrin said that KCC was hoping to reduce traffic congestion by 10% but this was very
        difficult and expensive in the light of increases in traffic of 3% a year. As far as highway
        safety is concerned, statistics showed that the roads were safer in 2006 than in 2003 in
        terms of the numbers killed and injured. The perception was that roads were more
        dangerous, but they were actually getting safer.

        Cllr. Ferrin is also responsible for waste. Residents felt that that in some places locally
        there was more fly-tipping. Cllr. Ferrin said that there was actually now than two years ago.
        It was pointed out that fly-tipping would be reduced if barriers were removed at Council tips
        to allow commercial tipping. Cllr. Ferrin said that a trial on removing barriers at a tip in
        Canterbury had not been successful as commercial traders would not take their rubbish

        There were complaints about the lack of a visible Police presence. Cllr. Ferrin agreed that
        a physical presence by the Police does make a difference. Regarding Community
        Wardens, he had helped set the scheme up and felt they were making a difference but he
        realised that if you need policeman you really want someone with their powers. The
        Community Warden scheme was set up to be the eyes and ears of a community, to talk to
        local people and persuade young people not to act in an anti-social way. KCC do not
        employ the Police, although they do contribute to their finance. It was felt that KCC should
        put more pressure on the Police to be more visible. He thought that the Police need to put
     more money into their community policing role and agreed with a parishioner’s comment
     that the problem was that the Police see their role as catching criminals not stopping the
     law being broken in the first place. Responding to a point about speed cameras, Cllr.
     Ferrin said that KCC are responsible for speed cameras, however, it was a
     misapprehension that these make money. The cameras do not make a profit in Kent, they
     only break even. There were not as many in Kent as in other authorities; for instance,
     there are twice as many in Medway as in the rest of Kent. He said that interactive signs,
     which light up if drivers were speeding, seemed to be more effective and he wanted to
     install a lot more of these. The problem of reducing congestion would not be solved by
     building roads or reducing the number of vehicles but by managing them better. KCC was
     trying to persuade people to take alternative routes which did not go through town centres.
     Ashford really needed the Victoria Way project. He agreed that Park & Ride schemes,
     when they start in Ashford, will help as will the scheme to get secondary school children on

     Questions were raised about the proposed Junction 10a. This is a very local issue and is a
     Highways Agency scheme rather than KCC. Cllr. Bartlett was able to give more
     information about the probable site for the roundabout which would be near the Garden
     Centre at Highfield Lane. The existing Junction 10 would be kept for local traffic use. If
     Ashford is going to be developed as planned, there would have to be a 10a. Other
     proposals had been considered but were more environmentally damaging. Residents felt
     that this had been kept secret, however Cllr. Bartlett said that this had not been the case.
     There had been public consultation on the masterplanning exercise for development in the
     area which had included J10a. There would also be public consultation in the future on the
     more detailed plans for J10a and other development. The HA had not yet got a view on
     whether Kingsford St. should have a dead-end or not. There would be options as to
     whether there would be an access to the A20. Cllr. Bartlett said that the cost of the new
     junction had risen substantially and was now estimated at £56m. The Govt. was not
     prepared to finance the whole of J10a. and there were doubts as to whether it will be built
     at all as the improvements to the existing J10 may push the need for it further in the future.

     A Sevington South resident was also concerned about an area which had been zoned for
     building about which residents had not been informed. There was also a question about
     ‘affordable homes’ and the fact that developers increased the price of these to pay for
     infrastructure. Another site for Junction 10a had also been mooted by a developer. Cllr.
     Bartlett said that developers will speculate small amounts for outline applications in many
     places to make a fortune in just one place. One could not stop this happening. If
     developers did not contribute to infrastructure costs, tax payers would have to pay.
     Planning gain exists to make sure developers make a big contribution. If the money goes
     to the Government it is difficult to get it back.

     Cllr. Ferrin finished the discussion by saying that KCC’s ‘Towards 2010’ measures, as
     outlined in the film, were on wider issues and would benefit Kent as a whole. The
     Chairman thanked Cllr. Ferrin for his willingness to answer questions and to give up his
     time for the meeting.

3.   Confirm minutes of the last Annual Parish Meeting on 15.5.06 and matters arising
     It was proposed by Mrs. Hadlow, seconded by Mr. Kibble and agreed that the minutes be
     accepted as a true record. There were no matters arising from the last minutes.
4.   Chairman’s annual report
     The Chairman gave a summary of her Annual Report, a copy of which is attached to these

5.   Borough Councillor’s report
     Cllr. Bartlett said that he was willing to answer questions. On a point about development in
     the Mersham and Sevington area he said that ABC do their best to tell everyone what is
     going on. He agreed that the houses are not wanted, but as the Government had imposed
     this on Ashford, the associated infrastructure would also have to be built. Planning
     permission had already been granted for 1200 houses at Cheeseman’s Green. However,
     changing market conditions and development elsewhere in Kent may mean that there are
     fewer new houses built than planned. After a query about access to the Cheeseman’s
     Green development, he said that there would only be emergency access onto local roads
     from this and that normal access would be via the A2070 near the Orbital Park roundabout.

     There were queries about what was being done near Bockham Lane. A new water main
     was being installed. Residents from Cheesemans Green mentioned that there had been
     an increase in the amount of heavy lorry traffic passing their property recently. The
     Sevington South Cllr. said that she would investigate this.

     A comment was made about the need for Borough Councillors to let their constituents
     know what was going on in their area. Cllr. Bartlett said that he gave a monthly report
     which was published in The Villager. He agreed that Borough Councillors should make
     sure that they communicate regularly with residents in their areas. It was agreed that a
     map of the J10a proposals would be published in the parish magazine when available.
     Cllr. Bartlett said he was very concerned about the pressure which will be exerted to
     develop the area immediately around J10a. As the Government will not pay for J10A,
     there may be a need for extra development land to be opened up on the old tip on the A20
     and the land behind the William Harvey Hospital.

     There was a query about surveying activity in a field adjacent to Highfield Lane. Cllr.
     Bartlett said that it was likely that anyone who owned a sizeable piece of land would be
     hoping that it would be needed for development, however, he did not think that the activity
     mentioned had anything to do with land required for J10a or that any land would be
     compulsorily purchased. It was confirmed that there had been no further information on
     the proposal for a carehome behind Glebelands.

     Complaints were made about light pollution. Cllr. Bartlett acknowledged that there had
     been problems with the lorry park and lights from Bad Munstereifel road. However, there
     were now new policies on light pollution and any new development must have planning
     consent for lighting above a certain level. These issues were now being taken much more
     seriously. He confirmed that ABC would be replacing Civic Centre interior lighting with
     energy-efficient bulbs when the existing ones need replacement.

     It was noted that noise barriers were being put up on the Hythe Rd. side of junction 10 and
     it was queried whether anything would be done about noise pollution from the A2070. Cllr.
     Bartlett said that this could only be improved by re-surfacing and the A2070 would not have
     a high priority. There was a section of the M20 near Sandyhurst Lane that would have top
     priority if funds ever became available.
The ever-increasing size of lorries travelling through the village was mentioned and it was
suggested that there should be a sign to discourage use by lorries at the entrance to the
village. However, this had been checked in the past and it appeared that the road was not
sufficiently narrow near the village shop to meet the criteria for this to be installed.
It was also suggested that the road-side bollards near shop should be concrete rather than
plastic as these are frequently flattened, however, this would not be allowed by Highways.

 Reference was made to a recent planning application that would allow lorries carrying gas
tanks to travel along Bower Road and it was felt that the planning conditions were too vague
and should have made sure that the lorries did not pass through the village. Enforcement
of planning applications was discussed and it was felt that Ashford had insufficient
enforcement officers. There were only two, whereas there were seven in Canterbury.

The Chairman thanked Cllr. Bartlett and parishioners for coming to the meeting and, there
 being no further business, she closed the meeting.