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Home

May 2024

Parish elections

The parish council was re-elected uncontested (this means that there were fewer nominations than spaces on the council). The parish council is therefore elected for the next four years. I am very grateful to the team for their continuing commitment in both time and effort. As a team, we work hard to address those issues within our control and extend our influence over those issues over which we do not have direct control or responsibility.

We do, though have one vacancy for someone from North Ward to be co-opted onto the council. Anyone interested to understand more can contact Lisa Westcott, our Parish Clerk, or me. My contact details, along with all the other parish councillors, can be found on the parish council website:

Borough elections

We'd like to offer our congratulations to our three new borough councillors: Kathy Cox, Tom and Janetta Sams.

We look forward to working with you.

Issues along the A20 / Faversham cross-roads

There have been a number of reports about incidents that have occurred at the A20 / Faversham Road cross-roads. What to do about this stretch of road was discussed at a recent meeting which included the Police, KCC (as Highways Authority) and the parish council. The meeting, arranged by Helen Whately, has begun a process of re-assessment about what might be done.

A summary of the actions taken by the parish council are set out elsewhere on this website, please refer to the tab A20 Safety Concerns.

What was evident from the outset is that the official record of incidents at this point does not reflect the experience of drivers and pedestrians. This has now been updated by KCC, as Highways Authority and shows a disparity between the data available and the "lived experience" of those who live along and use the A20.

Anyone involved in an incident here is strongly encouraged to report it either to the Police or to KCC. This is because unless the data about the road matches the experience it is going to be difficult to see what might be needed to start to address the various issues here.

Building works, Old Ham Lane road closure – May to July

The company working on behalf of Countryside Homes, the building company developing the 136 new homes off Old Ham Lane (strategic site 5 in the Lenham Neighbourhood Plan), will begin work during the last week of March.

This means Old Ham Lane will be closed to all traffic at the junction with Ham Lane, from 25 March until around 22 July to allow the road to be widened and services laid.

Access to William Pit Field will be maintained during this time and access to the properties at the top end of Old Ham Lane will be via the junction with Sandway Road.

It may be possible to allow access through Old Ham Lane during this period if the works reach a point where the road surface can be reinstated. This will entirely depend on progress and cannot be guaranteed.

Once the works are complete there will be a revised and wider access to the development site west of Old Ham Lane and a new, temporary junction to this road just north of the railway bridge.

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.

Maidstone Local Plan Review

At a hurriedly called full council meeting on 20 March 2024, Maidstone Borough Council voted, by a majority of 31/21 to adopt the revised local plan.

The support for this came almost entirely from the largest group of Conservative councillors supported by a small number of "partial" independents (former Conservative / Lib Dem representatives)..

The majority of the remaining councillors (from the Liberal Democrats, the Labour group and the Green / Independent group) voted against adoption. KCC also urged MBC not to adopt the local plan as there are too many unresolved issues within it. However, MBC chose to ignore all the arguments and the plan, which includes the creation of a new town at Lenham Heath, will now go ahead.

A formal challenge to the adoption of the local plan has been lodged at the High Court by SOHL. This has been mirrored by the community group Against Lidsing Garden Development. If either / both the challenges are accepted by the Court, the plan will proceed "at risk".

You may have seen a recent article covering issues related to the creation of a new station to service the so-called Garden Community, this is available 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!”

 

Cllr John Britt (Lenham South)

 

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