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February 2024

Parish Precept 2024/25

Lenham Parish Council has worked hard during a tough year to review all its outgoings and how best to structure the money it gets from the parish precept and other income. 

As a result, for the coming financial year (2024/25), we have managed to not increase the parish precept: we have held the charge for a Band D property at £135. The qualifying Band D properties are a factor the parish council must use to calculate the parish precept element of Council Tax

At a time when everyone will doubtless see increased demands from both Maidstone Borough Council and KCC in their Council Tax bills, Lenham Parish Council will not be adding to the financial burdens people are currently experiencing for the next financial year.

This has been achieved because, due to the number of completed new homes / developments, the number of “qualifying” Band D properties has increased. . This increase in qualifying Band D properties in the parish has given us some welcome financial headroom to absorb additional costs for the coming financial year (2024/25).

We cannot promise that this will be the case for future years.  However, one of the often-overlooked outcomes from the building of new homes is that, as the number of “qualifying” Band D properties increases this has the potential for a positive impact on calculations that affect the parish precept. All the while this situation continues it provides the parish council with a measure of financial headroom which we have been able to take advantage of for the next financial year.

Additionally, because of an agreement to sell a strip of land at William Pit Field to the company which will be developing the land west of Old Ham Lane (outlined as strategic site 5 in the Lenham Neighbourhood Plan), we have a windfall which has delivered some additional income for capital projects. Over the next few months, the parish council will be gathering costs for these current items on the “to-do” list to ensure that we make the maximum use of these funds.

We have managed this despite needing to ringfence funds in case we need to react to the outcome of the review of the Local Plan. This still contains a proposal to parachute 5,000 new dwellings, which amounts to a new town, onto the eastern edge of the parish from 2031.

Pollarding of the lime trees in Lenham Square

The pollarding of the lime trees in Lenham Square will start this month. This is a regular activity and is necessary to ensure the health of each tree and to ensure their longevity.

Pavement improvements to the High Street

The parish council has reached an agreement with KCC, as the Highways Authority, and MBC to make a small change to the pavement at the top end of the High Street.

The improvements will see the pavement extended where it presently disappears between the Chinese and the Hairdressers and will mean that people walking at that end of the High Street will no longer have to squeeze between parked cars. There is also a new disabled parking bay.

The improvements are being funded from S106 money, generated by the building of new homes in the parish, as well as a generous contribution from the Almshouses.

Maidstone Local Plan Review

Contrary to some "rumours" that are circulating, the proposal at Heathlands is not "a done deal". 

The Inspector has decided there is to be a further public consultation on certain elements of the local plan to ensure, as Cllr Cooper put it, "the LPR have as much a greater level of protection against technical challenge.". This new consultation on key elements of the reviewed local plan is scheduled to end on the 15 February. This means just four weeks has been allowed for comment which is at least two weeks less than the usual amount of time. While this lack of time was questioned the response to that query was that the Inspector has decided this is an appropriate time frame to deal with the issues. He further advised that he was not expecting further comment from those from whom he had already heard, and specifically named Lenham Parish Council in that group!

 What is also unclear is how this might be affected by the local elections, scheduled for 2 May 2024.

The parish council's response to the recent consultation on the main modifications to the original plan can be seen here..

The parish council remains firmly opposed to the potential for a new town at Lenham Heath and we will also continue to work with Save Our Heath Lands (SOHL) and others to scrutinise all the documentation related to this proposal and take action to defend the village against this proposal for what amounts to a new town. 

SOHL and the parish council would like to thank those who have already supported this effort, without that help the fight against a new town would not be possible.

If you feel you could support SOHL’s efforts, please get in touch with SOHL via the Go Fund Me page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-our-heath-lands

Throughout this process the parish council has taken, and continues to take, legal and professional advice so this is very much a situation of “The fight goes on!”

Final section of Maidstone Road / Ham Lane footpath

The work to address the final section of the Maidstone Road / Ham Lane footpath has been agreed, we are waiting for a date when the contractor can undertake the work. This has been a complex repair and while the final section is being completed the surface on the middle section will also be addressed. This has been funded from S106 monies, which are generated by the building of new homes in the parish.

We would like to thank everyone for their patience. Organising public works like this have to follow a process and sometimes that can delay things happening as fast as we would wish.

Would you be able to give our community some time?

Much of what we do relies on people volunteering their time and skills. The parish councillors are all volunteers who give up what time they have to keep things going, but there are lots of little ways that you could help which would not involve that level of commitment.

If you would like to find out more please contact Lisa Westcott, the Parish Clerk.

Cllr John Britt (Lenham South)

Chair: Lenham Parish Council

Published agendas will be available here

What does Lenham Parish Council do?

Parish Councils are the tier of local government closest to the people. Although the parish council covers the Parish of Lenham it is not linked to the church in any way. All parish councillors are volunteers who dedicate their free time to enhancing their parish as best they can by utilising their individual skills and experience.

Those putting themselves forward to serve as a parish councillor have to submit to the regular election process, or, if filling a vacancy mid-term, can be co-opted for the remainder of that electoral term. Electoral terms are four years. The elections for a parish council will only go to a public vote if there are more nominations than there are spaces on the parish council. Lenham parish is currently represented by 13 parish councillors: four representing South Ward (everything south of the railway) and nine representing North Ward (everything north of the railway). All parish councillors have to agree to abide by the Nolan Principles of Public Office. Parish councillors receive no remuneration for their time.

The responsibilities of Lenham Parish Council include looking after open spaces, such as the William Pitt field and Cemetery, maintaining playgrounds and other amenities, providing Maidstone Borough Council with a view on planning applications within the Parish and undertaking projects to benefit the Parish. Lenham Parish Council also has a Neighbourhood Plan which was adopted as part of the Maidstone Local Plan in July 2021. This Neighbourhood Plan is active until 2031. For more details of the Lenham Neighbourhood Plan please refer to the information tab "Lenham Neighbourhood Plan" on this website.

In addition to holding a full council meeting monthly, Lenham Parish Council has two specific sub committees which also meet monthly: Finance and General Purposes (F&GP) and Planning and (Neighbourhood Plan) Implementation (P&I). Both these sub committees focus on specific issues of work and in some cases do the detail which is then referred back to full council as recommendations to be discussed and agreed.

Both of these sub committees are open to the public and can be attended by all parish councillors, however, while all nominated attendees and visiting parish councillors can participate in the discussions only those parish councillors nominated as attendees to that subcommittee are able to vote on recommendations that will go forward to the full parish council meeting for discussion and agreement.

Finance and General Purposes Committee (F&GP)

The F&GP subcommittee consists of six nominated parish councillors and addresses the financial issues which the parish council is responsible for: dealing with contracts for maintenance of open space; maintaining and upgrading play equipment and other financial matters as and when these arise. The committee oversees the preparation of the annual budget and also discusses all other non-expenditure related matters and makes a recommendation to the full parish council for discussion and agreement. The sub committee is quorate when at least four parish councillors, including the Chair, are present.

Planning and (Neighbourhood Plan) Implementation (P&I)

The P&I subcommittee consists of six nominated parish councillors as well as three members of the public (who are non-voting) and the parish's planning consultant (also non-voting). The subcommittee carries out two important functions: it is a statutory consultee for all planning applications in the parish and it is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Lenham Neighbourhood Plan ensuring that the parameters and policies within the plan are actioned and reflected in the parish responses to planning applications. All recommendations from the subcommittee are referred to the next full meeting of the parish council for ratification. The subcommittee is quorate when at least four parish councillors, including the Chair, are present.

Our Mission Statement 

The Lenham Parish Council (LPC) is dedicated to enhancing the lives of all the residents of Lenham and its surrounding hamlets. LPC aims to maintain and protect the Parish environment and amenities. LPC strives to be pro-active in identifying and completing projects, large and small, that will benefit the Parish as a whole, with value for money always being sought. LPC aims to help keep Lenham Parish a unique and special place for residents and visitors alike as the world around us changes.

 

Council Officers:

Parish Clerk: Lisa Westcott

Contact details Email: clerk@lenhamparishcouncil.org.uk            Telephone: 01622 829034

Registered office: 1A High Street, Lenham, Kent ME17 2QD Open: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10:00h - 13:00h.

Responsible Financial Officer: Mr James Bate

Contact details Email: rfo@lenhamparishcouncil.org.uk