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Parish Council News May 2020

Zoom, the new noise for 2020. What a difference a month makes! When writing the April newsletter in mid-March, Covid-19 meant something but not the impact it was going to make on all our lives. It was happening, it was from China, and the government were making plans for its containment. Then zoom it was upon us, governments changed plans almost daily and we are all locked down, locked in but so far, not locked up. So, our previous lifestyle came to a halt. Now we must work together to survive this scourge, survive the lockdown and help our neighbours.

In our parish that meant 70 people volunteering to help with “Corona Kindness” the umbrella for much that is being organised for our community: bringing together the combined efforts of our churches, parish council, councillors, volunteers and community. Focusing on practical help, Corona Kindness volunteers have widely leafletted most households in the parish with information on how to get help. It is being co-ordinated by Louise Vickerman on phone 0790 333 2014 email: gkcovid19help@gmail.com or our Community Cupboard (food bank) coordinated by Goudhurst and Kilndown Church, contact: Ali Williams on 07944 76008 email: aliwilliams@gkchurch.org Contributions of food to St Mary’s porch will be greatly welcomed as will financial donations. Corona Kindness volunteers working with Ready Call and also other Community Action Groups are there to help with all manner of issues, picking up shopping and urgent supplies, posting mail, collecting prescriptions from our pharmacy, and most importantly a friendly chat during the lock down.

Tunbridge Wells rural parishes made up of Benenden, Bidborough, Brenchley, Capel, Cranbrook and Sissinghurst, Frittenden, Goudhurst, Hawkhurst, Horsmonden, Lamberhurst, Paddock Wood, Rusthall, Sandhurst, Southborough and Speldhurst held a ‘zoom’ conference call meeting for our chairmen or Clerks to coordinate our various activities that are supporting rural communities outside Tunbridge Wells town. Thus, we have people and neighbours, parishes, town and country working together, as one, to fight our invisible common enemy.

Our supermarkets in Tunbridge Wells, Paddock Wood and Cranbrook are stepping up to the mark with home deliveries as are our wonderful local shops; Burgess Stores, Newsagents and Post Office, the Pharmacy, Taywell & Ladysden Farm Shops. Goudhurst Surgery is open for business which just takes a phone call and we are attended to by doctor and nurse in our very own drive through surgery.

Our Annual Parish Meetings in Goudhurst & Kilndown are postponed and our Parish Council cannot meet in person. But after a short period of adjustment we have devolved powers to our Clerk and committee chairmen so that council can continue its work since at that time government had not passed regulations to allow councils to operate other than in person (now so permitted). Indeed, a‘zoom’ meeting combined with our on-screen documents can be surprisingly effective. Your council is proactive and remains at the end of the phone 01580 212552 for Clerk or our new email address clerk@goudhurst-PC.gov.uk.

On a zooming Parish Council meeting Wednesday evening May 15th we agreed that in view of the fantastic fundraising response by the community for the Goudhurst play area we could release the parish allocated funds thus enabling the first stage of the project (the new equipment) to be contracted from our selected supplier. Stage two, the resurfacing of the area, will have to wait till we all return to normal when fund raising can resume. Most other projects before your council are progressing as best they can and those that will need to wait post corona are being carefully logged so we can get going again as soon as we can. We are informed that the 2020 Fete has now been cancelled for this year though the organisers hope to arrange a celebration in the autumn when hopefully we re-emerge. The 2020 Goudhurst in Bloom has also been cancelled not least because spring plants cannot be easily obtained. So far, the daffodils have made 2020 a memorable early spring.

During the TW Area meeting, referred to earlier, it was confirmed that the government has decided that all elections are postponed until next year including our Borough Councillor election which should have been held in May this year. The pending referendum on our Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) has also been delayed and so our NDP will be considered as approved (made). From now it needs to be the reference for borough officers judging planning applications within our parish. This should be good news and give force to all the recommendations and reward all the work put into the project by so many people over the past two years. Thank you Colin Willis, NDP Chairman and Craig Broom our most capable NDP secretary/ administrator and everyone who took part. However, there are a number of planning issues that give us and our neighbouring parishes concern for the future, especially that the lockdown should not used by developers to circumvent proper process and that planning enforcement must not be neglected.

As reported last month, our internet service provider notified us last year that because of the increased volume of work he did not wish to continue to host the council emails beyond March 2020. Your parish council has registered new email addresses for all councillors (now ending in …@goudhurst-pc.gov.uk) and a new website (goudhurst-pc.gov.uk) all of which went live on 1st April despite the corona hiatus. Although there much work still to do on the new website, a huge thanks is due to the hard work of our clerks and some councillors, largely in their own time, who made this possible.

Finally, may we wish all parishioners in Goudhurst, Kilndown and Curtisden Green all the very best in these exceptional times. Take precautions, wash hands, stay well and see you soon.

Your Parish Councillors … David Boniface, Craig Broom, Chris Ditton, Alan Foster, Antony Harris (Chairman), Phil Kirkby, David Knight, Barry Noakes, Caroline Richards, Jayne Russell, Guy Sutton and Peter Wood.

COVID-19 – help & support in Goudhurst Parish

Parish Council Logo
Goudhurst

The Parish Council and Goudhurst & Kilndown Church have brought together activities to support those in the Parish during this time of uncertainty as part of a community action group called the Goudhurst Community Support Team.

The community has, as always, risen to the call to action, with a group of more than 50 people already offering voluntary support to help those that are vulnerable or self-isolating in our villages in response to the Corona Kindness leaflet drop. Support from the team is being offered across the whole Parish to include residents of Goudhurst, Kilndown, Curtisden Green and Round Green.

Current Activities

Currently volunteers are providing help by undertaking shopping, delivering prescriptions and medication, posting mail and providing a friendly phone call to people in need. As time goes on there will, we are sure, be more that needs to be done.

If you are in a position to help, are fit and healthy and free from any symptoms of the coronavirus, then do please get in touch to see how you can get involved.

We are also aware that a number of other groups exist in the Parish with smaller communities looking after residents of roads and streets in the villages – please keep this critical network going but do please contact us if you need any further help, advice or support.

We are working with a number of local charities such as Ready Call and also other Community Action Groups and have lots of connections and information we can share.

Community Cupboard

GK Church is continuing to run the Community Cupboard which is our local food bank for those needing support with food, household goods and toiletries and is delivered to your doorstep. This has seen unprecedented demand with a significant increase in requests over the last 2 weeks.

If you are able to donate anything, all contributions are greatly welcomed. All donations can be left in the porch St Mary’s. Please follow the full hygiene guidelines available outside the church when dropping food off.

We also have occasional donations of fresh vegetables, often in excess of what we need. If you don’t need the full food bank support, but fresh vegetables would help the weekly budget stretch further, particularly with children at home full-time, please get in touch so we can notify you when we have vegetables available. We know that it’s not easy to ask for help, but we have plenty of food for those who need it.

The Parish Council and GK Church will continue to send updates on its website and Facebook pages.

We are very conscious that there are a number of people in our villages who don’t have access to the internet so do please share with them the contact information below showing where they can get support. We will also look to do another door drop of information very soon.

Points of Contact

Goudhurst Parish Council: Anthony Farnfield 01580 212552 or clerk@Goudhurst-PC.gov.uk

Goudhurst Community Support Team, Louise Vickerman 0790 333 2014(8am – 7pm) gkcovid19help@gmail.com

Community Cupboard (food bank) support please contact
Ali Williams 0794 477 6008 (8am – 7pm) ali.williams@gkchurch.org

GPC Suspends face-to-face meetings

All of our Parish Councils meetings (including committees) are open to the public and there is a point in each agenda for members of the public to raise issues or ask questions.

In the current crisis we are no longer able to hold any form of face-to-face meetings. We are continuing to meet as a council and in committee using virtual meetings.

If you have any questions or would like to make any representations to full council or an individual committees please contact clerk either via email, using our contact form or on 01580 212552 and we will support your need.

Parish Council News April 2020

Antony Harris, GPC Chair

Planning – a crook’s charter – or perhaps an invitation to lie, and most certainly a massive headache for your Parish and Borough Councils. Since our government ministers decided to rip away decades of protective planning legislation to be replaced by just 50 odd pages of guidelines, they also stripped away many of the protections for the countryside, the environment and the orderly development of housing. These protections have been replaced with a “presumption of development”, a veritable developers charter, supported by government inspectors with a clear mandate of approving developments come what may “because of the overriding need for houses”. This is often done regardless of the merits or otherwise of the scheme itself (in the green belt, AONB, flood plain and without adequate infrastructure etc.) and overriding all the views of the affected local communities, Borough and Parish councils, councillors and officers. Government MP’s and ministers would say not, and point to all their claimed protections, weasel words frequently not supported by the reality. Together with our Borough we are trying to ensure there is good communications with the Borough officers who must approve or not planning applications amid a fog of continually changing rules. Your Parish council does its best to input local knowledge, although we are conscious of the fact that we have no powers to decide anything. We can merely input our opinion on behalf of the community and should that advice not be followed, sadly take the brunt of local annoyance. It can all be rather frustrating for your councillors, but we are working hard with the Borough Chief Executive and his team to make sure we are properly consulted and kept adequately informed. With some form of traffic light scheme to enable us to have some opportunity to intervene before our recommendations are ignored, rather than learn about it, as now, when it is too late.

As mentioned in last month’s News your Parish Council embarked on a comprehensive Parking Survey covering all the properties around the Plain, on the High Street, West Road, Back Lane and North Road. The survey aims to ask every household how many cars they have, how many are parked in Goudhurst during the working day and separately how many during evenings and weekends and where they park. The survey will include all businesses, number of employees who drive into Goudhurst, with how many cars and where they normally park. This information is vital to enable council to establish how many additional car parking spaces are required to ensure there is sufficient space for residents and customers for our shops, cafés and pubs so we can keep our businesses flourishing and our village thriving.

About High Street traffic, residents will be well aware that many motorists insist on making matters worse by refusing to give way and let the on coming traffic clear. Even when doing so might speed their own journey. Whilst this may be obvious to most intelligent drivers (Goudhurst drivers of course) we had hoped to be able to provide some guidance and encouragement by putting up some signage to give priority to cars leaving the village at the church wall corner to Cranbrook or down by the pond and heading west towards Tunbridge Wells. But at a recent meeting between our Assistant Clerk, David Boniface our Highways Committee Chairman and an Officer from Kent Highways we were advised that this is not allowed on an “A” road. We did however receive support and encouragement for some of our other initiatives around the village about which more next month. So, whenever appropriate let’s try at least to help ourselves, by giving way at those two places to on-coming traffic.

Last month we reported that our e-mail server would be changing and we thought that the process would be straight forward. But we had not appreciated HMG rules whereby Parish councils cannot appropriate the name of their village without qualification. Parish councils are required to add the suffix -pc to their village name. So our new email address from April will be as follows Clerk@goudhurst- pc.gov.uk Emails to Parish councillors or our Clerks that have the name@goudhurst.co.uk should continue to reach us, as they will for the time being, be forwarded automatically.

The fundraising for the Goudhurst Village Play Area (on Back Lane adjacent to the Church Rooms) is now well underway which is very encouraging; though the subsequent survey shows we will also have to replace the flooring, much increasing the expected cost. So, thank you everyone who has so generously contributed so far. Your contributions are hugely appreciated but please keep them coming as we are not yet where we need to be.

Many of you will be aware that there have recently been attempted robberies in two of our wonderful village shops. Whatever the amounts stolen, the greater damage and distress has been to those manning their premises who have been faced with guns or knives or just intimidation. Together we, Council, businesses and community will need to work out a response plan so that everyone can feel safe and supported otherwise we may, as in many other places, simply lose our shops.

Your Parish Councillors: David Boniface, Craig Broom, Chris Ditton, Alan Foster, Antony Harris (Chairman), Phil Kirkby, David Knight, Barry Noakes, Caroline Richards, Jayne Russell, Guy Sutton and Peter Wood.

Goudhurst Play Park – Fundraising appeal

Goudhurst Village Play Area (on Back Lane adjacent to the Church Rooms) is in desperate need of renovation. The play area was used by a large section of the community, from toddlers to teenagers. Unfortunately, much of the equipment was condemned and subsequently removed. The community of Goudhurst & Kilndown, supported by Goudhurst Parish Council, is embarking on a fundraising mission to enable an upgrade of the play area with brand new equipment.

The children and parents of the village were invited to vote on the design. A scheme costing £34,000 was chosen from Wicksteed, a company who has manufactured outdoor play equipment since 1918.

The design voted for by parents and children
Proposed design of the new play area

Goudhurst Parish Council has budgeted £14,000 towards the project. The remaining £20,000 needs to be raised.

The appeal is seeking a main sponsor, with a donation in excess of £5,000. In return, a sponsor’s name or company name and logo will headline the permanent sponsorship board, to be situated in the play area. There is further opportunity for sponsorship, with suggested donations of between £1,000 and £5,000, (sponsors’ names to be included on the board). If you would like to sponsor the play area please contact Jayne Russell at jayne.russell@goudhurst.co.uk or call 07766 5537

Make a donation