This Blog contains contributions from members of Eynsford Parish Council. Any opinions expressed are their own.
Previous posts (up to December 2014) were made by ex-Chairman, Clive Stanyon, and were his own views, not necessarily the views of all councillors.
Author: Theresa Durrant | Date: 24th September 2018
The potential development of the Pedham Place site, has been without doubt one of the most talked about subjects over recent weeks, but it does not look like the conversation will end anytime soon, as the final version of the Local Plan is not set to be formally adopted by Sevenoaks District Council until late 2019.
After attending one of the recent consultation meetings, held at both Eynsford and Farningham's village halls, I was staggered by the number of residents who attended to either provide their support or voice their objections over the proposed development of this site. Whilst I admired the way the Sevenoaks District Council representatives remained relatively calm, under what was at times ferocious questioning by members of the public, I was disappointed by the lack of information to hand. Any line of questioning I pursued about the development with the representatives, was met with reference to one of many online consultation documents that weren't available at the meeting. In my personal opinion, I feel that more could have been done by Sevenoaks District Council to raise awareness about the consultation much earlier in the process, particularly given that a large proportion of our residents do not have access to social media, thereby giving them more time to consider the proposals in more detail for what is a significantly large development proposal with far reaching impact on the surrounding area.
It would also seem that Sevenoaks District Council are struggling under the volume of comments and concerns being raised by residents and various organisations, as despite the draft consultation being closed on their website, they are still processing comments made prior to the deadline date.
Now that the consultation has closed, I have taken some time to read through many of the comments online, and it would appear that the vast majority of residents who responded are against the site being considered for development. Organisations that have also voiced their objections include; Swanley Town Council, Kent Downs AONB and many of the surrounding parish councils, of which Eynsford is one of them. Many of you objected against the potential loss of AONB land; that the land did not fit the green belt 'exceptional circumstances' criteria, along with concerns over the detrimental impact on infrastructure, such as; medical and social care services, emergency services, schools, traffic and road congestion and the lack of adequate utilities, which was also raised as a major concern by Thames Water.
Unfortunately, the fate of Pedham Place is far from being decided yet, as the Planning Policy Team at Sevenoaks District Council, will now spend the next few months considering all comments, with the aim of publishing the final version of the Local Plan by the end of 2018, which will in turn be submitted to the Governmentís Planning Inspector around Spring 2019.
It will be down to the Planning Policy Team to decide if the final version of the plan, may or may not include the Pedham Place site. If they do decide that the site should remain in the final version of the plan, then there will be further opportunity for members of the public and developers to have their say, during a public examination and a further six week consultation period, details of which will be available on the Sevenoaks District Council website closer to the examination date.
Author: Theresa Durrant | Date: 1st May 2018
Data Protection and privacy laws have hit the headlines recently, following the controversy surrounding Facebook and Cambridge Analytica and how they have used and sold personal data. Up until now GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) is something that people may have heard about, but don't necessarily understand how or why it is one of the most significant changes that has happened around data privacy since 1998.
The original Data Protection Act came into play before the internet become what it is today and long before social media. Ownership of personal data very much belonged with the entity collecting the data, and in a nutshell, the new legislation aims to protect individuals and put the power of how personal data is used back into the hands of us, the data subject.
As the data subject your rights include;
Plus organisations must now ensure that any data that is no longer required, must automatically be deleted in line with their retention polices.
For those of you who may have read our recent newsletter, you will already know the parish council has been working towards ensuring they are fully compliant with GDPR. However, GDPR does not stop at putting a few processes in place, it is an ongoing mission to protect the personal data that we hold on individuals and to ensure that we are collecting it in a completely lawful manner, whilst preventing against data loss and breach.
The parish council may only hold limited amounts of personal data. Much of which is held to help the parish council fulfill its legal obligations, such as with tenants, or because it is in the public interest, but regardless of this, the parish council will still take the processing of personal data very seriously. Complacency towards data is not acceptable, and with this in mind, we aim to be fully transparent about the data that we may hold, along with with the purpose for holding it, all of which is reflected in our new Privacy Notice.
Behind the scenes all of the parish councils employees, councillor's and role holders will be undergoing training on data protection, as the responsibility for protecting data does not stop with the council it stops with the individuals working for and serving the council. And to add an additional layer of security, all councillor's will be adopting a professional email address.
If you have any questions or concerns about how your data is being used, you can contact the Parish Council at any time.
Cllr Theresa Durrant
Author: Phil Ward | Date: 9th April 2018
On Sunday 25th March, I was fortunate enough to be invited (as a Parish Council rep) to a performance of Darent Valley Youth Music at St Martinís Church, my first full concert experience of the group. I attended with my partner Vanessa and her mum Shirley, who I found at the side of the road in her wheelchair, but thatís another story.
We were treated to various genre of music from classical to Disney (some great numbers there) played by groups of young people of differing musical stages, all with remarkable enthusiasm. I should also mention the dedication offered by the slightly older members who teach, organise and conduct, particularly Duncan Dwinell, Jezz Laing and James Drake; well done chaps.
A really entertaining afternoon of music punctuated by delicious tea and cake. However, the performance was slightly bittersweet as for three of the musicians, it was their last performance with DVYM. They are heading off to university, starting another phase in their lives, but hopefully they will always carry with them the gift of music, inspired and nurtured by DVYM. Good luck to them all.
I now realise what a successful and important organisation DVYM is for the area, deserving support from the whole community. It provides a unique opportunity for our young people to express themselves musically, providing inspiration, building confidence, fostering teamwork and providing an outlet for their undoubted talents.
I would urge you all to support this amazing organisation; go to a concert or three, or if you know of a young person who might want to be involved, get in touch directly https://dvym.org/
In their own words ĎLife without music would B♭' (it took me a moment - B flat)
Author: Ferne Haxby | Date: 16th February 2018
February is a horrible month, Christmas has gone, the nights are still long, Spring seems not to be raising its eyes over the horizon as yet, and the weather is wet, cold and dismal. As you can will tell, not my favourite month!
So, what better time to start a new project, one that can help members of the community and involve people in reaching out to our more vulnerable residents.
Initial discussions took place in the summer of last year with Bluebird Care, Carers FIRST and the Alzheimer's and Dementia Support Services to research what services and support was available generally to people living with Dementia and their carers in Eynsford and Farningham and, indeed, the surrounding villages Whilst these organisations are working with people, to get them together was proving difficult as meeting places, day centres and other groups were based in the towns.
Working together, we were able to put together a plan to bring people living with Dementia, their carers and volunteers from the villages together to have time to chat, share experiences, have some fun and gain advice, information and help from experts.
Of course, funding is always needed for this sort of thing and Sevenoaks District Council and the two Parish Councils of Eynsford and Farningham were happy to help fund the initial set up and first year running of the Cafe.
The first meeting took place on Friday 9th February in Eynsford Village Hall and was a great success. We welcomed both carers and those living with Dementia from the villages and surrounding areas. Bluebird Care, Carers FIRST and the Alzheimer's and Dementia Support Services were all on hand to help with advice and guidance, whilst a group of wonderful volunteers from the village provided refreshments and activities.
A cheese tasting and faces from the past quiz took place which proved very successful - did you know 'Daisy' provides milk to make the cheese or so one of our members said!!!
We look forward to future meetings taking place throughout the year every 2nd Friday of the month (Except August).
Watch out for advertising on notice boards throughout the villages and a monthly following in the Trident and Parish Magazines.
If you would like more information, contact Cllr Ferne Haxby on 07980820216. We look forward to welcoming more people in the future.
Cllr Ferne Haxby
Author: Phil Ward | Date: 20th November 2017
Last week, I attended the remembrance service at Eynsford War Memorial. It always proves a well organised event involving representatives from all sections of the community. Numbers attending seem to increase each year but it remains very respectful and poignant.
On the 4th November, I joined the hundreds of other residents and visitors to watch poor Guy Fawkes meet his fate and marvel at the stunning firework display at Furlongs Farm; it always makes me proud to say I live here. Although the ground was damp, we managed to dodge the earlier rain with the delicious mulled wine warming us on the inside. The only issue was the recurring theme of traffic, which seemed more of a problem this year, mainly due to visitors double parking between the school and the Baptist church. Organisers may want to think about some mitigation for next year.
Sadly, there was a fatal car crash on the A225 last week, our thoughts going to the friends and family of those involved. We donít have any information as to the cause, but will monitor closely to see if there are any lessons for us to consider going forward.
The biggest single village issue Iím involved with is the provision of a new village hall. It may seem that little is happening but be assured there is slow but steady progress. Architectural plans are at an advanced stage and hall users were recently presented with these for comment, with some useful ideas on detail coming forward.
On a personal note, I've just returned from a brief but enjoyable cultural visit to Warsaw taking part in a local parkrun - similar to the weekly Lullingstone event - come along it's free!!
Author: Theresa Durrant | Date: 10th October 2017
If Facebook is anything to go by, then no subject is more divisive to a community than 'parking'. It's very easy to point a finger and blame haulage companies, commuters or mum's and dad's at school drop off times, but in reality the issue of parking and congestion is much more wide spread around the village than many residents realise. Except for those living in the affected hot spots that is!
Hot spots such as St Martin's Drive, outside Anthony Roper and the high street are locations that often have people tooting their horns and swapping a few heated words, but the effects of poor parking can be problematic for many reasons, such as; the cost in repairing damaged vehicles; pedestrians and vehicles repeatedly coming into close contact, minor accidents and on the extreme side loss of life if emergency vehicles are not able to navigate through the traffic.
The parish council receives a number of complaints each year from concerned residents and whilst every complaint is treated very seriously and advice sought from Sevenoaks District Council or Kent Highways, the solution isn't always to pop in a few parking restrictions, such as yellow lines or bollards and hope this resolves the problem. The growing population invariably means more cars per household and potentially more school drop offs. A dwindling public transport service and more housing demands across the district means more road users in general, all of which put extra pressure on parking around the village. Any long term parking restriction plans need to be considered very carefully in order not to push the problem to another area of the village, where the affects of congestion may be even more detrimental. The parish council also need to consider that not all residents have access to off street parking and therefore putting in parking restrictions could be rather unfair on them.
So what can we do about the problem?
The parish council is aware that many streets in the village were not designed to accommodate the number of cars currently being parked in them. In the long term, the parish council has set up a parking committee who will be responsible for investigating viable parking initiatives. However, they are under no illusion that both budget constraints and available space for development, could limit these to small scale initiatives. The parish council and the Village Hall trustees are also working closely to ensure that parking is a consideration in the new village hall design should the project get the go ahead.
In the short term, arrangements have been made with the parish council and some of the pubs to open their car parks during school drop off and collection times, so they can be utiltised by parents. Although we would ask parents to vacate the parking space as soon as they have dropped off or collected their children to ensure the space is available for other parents.
We are also urging visitors, commuters and residents to exercise some restraint and take extra care when parking to ensure that the daily commute is more enjoyable and safe for all of us. For example, did you know that a fire engine needs 10ft (3 meters) of clearance to pass safely? Poorly parked cars could be putting the lives of friends, families and neighbours at risk and could make a difference in saving a life or not.
The parish council is also currently pursuing parking restriction initiatives around the village, to ensure that the roads are kept safe for both road users and pedestrians. By reducing parking on both sides of the high street, this will help to improve visibility and prevent narrowing of the road caused by double parking and ensure that vehicles and emergency vehicles can navigate around the village safely. However, these are just small steps towards alleviating what is becoming an increasing and more pressing problem.
How do other villages cope?
Parking issues seem to be a common occurrence across many rural villages and some residents have come up with creative ways to help reduce the problem. For example, some parents have taken to petitioning their school to open up space for designated drop off/pick up points within the school grounds. Other initiatives include a proactive approach to educating road users by training teachers / residents or parents to issue parking tickets through volunteer parking warden schemes.
Other villages approach the parking issue by communicating the importance of walking short journeys wherever possible, which not only has the added health benefits, but can reduce household bills by as much as £50-£100 per month.
Then of course there is the common sense approach, which includes road users not double parking their vehicles, leading to reduced sight lines, but could also mean avoiding a costly trip to the garage to replace wing mirrors; leaving more room at junctions, parking as close to the kerb as possible, leaving pavements clear so wheelchair or pushchairs users don't have to step into the road to pass parked cars and of course using indicators so other road users know your intentions and don't inadvertently block oncoming traffic.
This is clearly a problem that is set to be around for a while yet, but the parish council and parking committee welcome any ideas and collaboration to reduce the parking impact on the village. In the meantime, if you are experiencing problems with parking around the village, you can find more information about reporting nuisance parking here: http://www.kent.gov.uk/