Chairman's update - December 2023
Welcome to the Parish Council website. We are always pleased to hear from you and try to communicate as often as we can via this website, our e-mail circle, Facebook page and twice yearly newsletter. If you have any issue of concern that you think we may be able to help with please get in touch by phone, e-mail or the contact form here on the website. We don’t monitor community social media pages but if you get in touch directly we will be happy to listen and help, where we can. In situations where we don’t have any direct influence we can assist you in lobbying the responsible authority for action, where appropriate.
We are delighted to welcome two new Parish Councillors this year - Jeremy Green and Stewart Lane. Both members have already been hard at work attending meetings and spending time getting up to speed with all Parish Council and BMAT matters. Jeremy and Stewart’s enthusiasm, skills and experience are very much appreciated.
A great deal of the Parish Council’s time is spent on planning issues, considering both the here and now and the future of our parish. The Parish Council does not approve or refuse planning applications, we are a statutory consultee and comment on the effect applications would have on our residents and the local area, using planning policy to guide us. The majority of planning applications are decided by delegated powers to MBC planning officers however we do have the ability to insist an application is decided by elected members and in this instance we attend the relevant MBC planning meeting to have our say. Parish Council planning meetings are always open to the public and advertised in advance on our website and the Church Street noticeboard. Do come along and make your views known. So far this year we have held 14 planning meetings and commented on 60 planning applications.
Another area of our work is highway issues. KCC are the responsible highway authority and have sole responsibility for maintenance of roads throughout the county. We meet regularly with KCC officers and your elected KCC member, Cllr Lottie Parfitt-Reid, to discuss issues affecting us in Boughton Monchelsea and we lobby for improvements and report faults (which any member of the public can also do https://www.kent.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/report-a-problem)
Programmable flashing lights (‘wig wags’) have now been installed either side of the pedestrian crossing on Heath Road. These have been funded by the Parish Council and turn on and off automatically at school run times. We also asked KCC to look into further minor improvement works on Heath Road and they have agreed to fund and install the following signs and barriers, which should be in place within the next few months :
- Yellow backed 30mph signs at entry points to the 30 zone
- Additional 30mph repeater signs
- Yellow backed school / crossroads signs either side of the primary school
- Yellow backed crossroads / reduce speed now signs either side of Brishing Lane junction
- Pedestrian guard rail on north side of signal controlled pedestrian crossing next to the primary school (to prevent vehicles from veering on to the path)
We appreciate the above measures will have limited effect on the speed of traffic but we have been pleased to see the Police carrying out regular speed enforcement at the Church Street / Heath Road junction and have requested that this continues. There have been several recent near misses on Heath Road which is of huge concern to us all. Highway safety has always high on our agenda and we will continue to lobby KCC for appropriate action.
We take great pride in the appearance, maintenance and protection of our semi-rural parish and spend much time and effort, with the help of our landscape maintenance contractor, volunteers and our close links with BMAT, to make improvements and keep the parish looking good. BMAT is fortunate enough to have a growing number of regular volunteers and you can find out more about how to get involved by joining the new ‘Friends of BMAT’ Facebook group which new member, Stewart Lane has recently set up.
We were delighted to meet up with several Langley Park residents over the summer to listen to their compliments and concerns regarding the Langley Park country park. This area is managed by Taylor Wimpey’s management company but we were pleased to facilitate a meeting with MBC and Taylor Wimpey to agree pathway improvements around the site and grass cutting around the communal bench areas. The country park is a lovely natural open space for residents and wildlife alike and we have been very happy to help out. If there are any further issues please feel free to give us a call.
We are often not directly responsible for issues with a negative effect on the parish but we work closely with the relevant authorities and regularly report problems such as fly tipping and overgrown footpaths. As a resident, you can play your part by using the relevant online portals to report issues as and when they arise. For public rights of way, use https://www.kent.gov.uk/environment-waste-and-planning/public-rights-of-way/report-a-problem-on-a-right-of-way For fly tipping report via https://maidstone.gov.uk/home/primary-services/street-care-and-cleaning/litter,-bins-and-street-sweeping/report-fly-tipping. With fly tipping in particular, MBC act very quickly to remove dumped material and have been successful in finding and prosecuting offenders.
Many of you will already have been enjoying the delicious coffee and refreshments available at Bocton Café within the village hall. Although the dark evenings and cold weather are here to stay for the next few months, the new café provides a friendly respite from the elements so please continue to support café manager, Sonja and her efforts - every cup of coffee you buy means the village hall committee can keep hall hire costs to a minimum, benefitting all of us living in the parish.
Nearing the end of my report I must mention that we are always very pleased to offer financial support to various parish organisations. Earlier this year we awarded grants to Boughton Monchelsea Scout group, Brownies, Baby & Toddler group, Helping Hands, Friendship Circle and WI. If you run a not for profit community organisation in Boughton Monchelsea and are in need of a small grant please get in touch so we can consider your request.
With the cold, wet weather now upon us, most of our allotment tenants have ‘put their plots to bed’ for the Winter but we do have a number of vacant plots available at our Haste Hill Road site. If you live in the parish and are interested in leasing an allotment please contact the parish clerk for more information [email protected]. We also have an allotment site at Langley Park. This site is currently full but please contact the clerk to join the waiting list.
We are very grateful to all our regular litter pickers who do a great job of keeping the parish clean and tidy. In fact they are doing such a fantastic job that there was no need for our traditional autumn litter pick this year. Thank you so much and keep up the good work!
Bus operator, Nu Venture have advised that they are now running a number 14 shoppers bus to and from Maidstone town centre each weekday, leaving Boughton Monchelsea at 11.10am and returning from Maidstone at 1.40pm. This is in addition to the Wednesday only number 59 shoppers bus which leaves Boughton Monchelsea at 10.08am. This service can only continue with residents’ support so, as the saying goes, ‘use it or lose it’!
Finally, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and hope to see as many of you as possible at Carols on the Green on Monday 11th December at 7.30pm. As usual we will be joined by the Salvation Army band and there will be plenty of refreshments to go round! Do come along if you can, it’s the start of our Christmas countdown here at the Parish Council!
Cllr Steve Munford