ANNUAL PARISH ASSEMBLY MINUTES 2014

PENSHURST PARISH COUNCIL

Report of Annual Parish Assembly held Monday 14 April 2014 at 7:30pm in Penshurst Village Hall

1.      PRESENT: Cllr J Cass (Chairman), Mrs D Broad, J Broadhead, A Campbell, I Carson, J Horsford

APOLOGIES:   Cllr J O’Shea, S Frederick

2.      Minutes of the meeting held on 8 April 2013 were approved and signed by the Chairman.

3.      Chairman’s Report: Cllr John Cass –

The Chairman welcomed those present to the Annual Parish Assembly.

Firstly we all express our thanks to our clerk, Evelyn, for all her hard work over the year and to say how pleased we are that she is now in better healthy than at this time last year.   Once again this has not been a normal year for the Parish Council’

In common with much of the country we have suffered from an extremely wet and windy winter.  Luckily unlike other areas our flood infrastructure has stood the test and I am sure many of us paid particular attention to water levels in Forge Field.  We had inconvenience but not disaster.  We have also lost many trees, probably the most since the 1987 storm.

The majority of our routine work has been reviewing planning applications, some straightforward and some not and the latter obviously includes affordable housing, of which more later.

Dianne Broad arranges all the site meetings and she, Andy Campbell and I – supported by Jonathan Horsford and Bruce Townsend when required make the necessary site visits and respond to SDC on behalf of the Parish Council.

On supplying affordable homes in our parish we unfortunately have made little progress, a final application was lodged for Beckets Field as a superior site alternative to the Forge Field proposal.  This was rejected by SDC.   However, the Forge Field saga continues in spite of this and three applications being granted planning approval by SDC.   The continued resistance by the anti Forge Field movement still delays this important project.   Currently it has been taken to Judicial Review on the last two applications and has been heard in the Royal Courts of Justice over two days.  The Claimants – Forge Field Society – took all but 20 minutes on day one which left day two for the defendants – SDC – to answer both Judicial Reviews and allow the claimants time to respond to those answers.   SDC therefore agreed to concede the first Judicial Review to avoid having to set another hearing at some unspecified future time.

The presiding judge has now to make his decision on Judicial Review 2.  Mr Justice Lindblom has said he will do this as soon as possible but it may be several weeks before he can do so.   It is now over five years since the needs survey was completed and still those identified wait to see if they will be able to afford to stay and have homes in their villages.

Work continues on traffic calming and as an extra agenda item, Norman Furnell will give us some information on the progress the team has made this year.

We are continuing to financially support bulk rubbish collections in both villages and also run the popular and well attended village fund days on Fordcombe Cricket Ground.

A long term complaint had been the standard of verge and swathe cutting.  We now have taken this on ourselves, together with Chiddingstone, Hever and Leigh and for the first year we are happy with standards achieved.

John Cass – Chairman

4.      Retreat Charity:

Both properties are currently occupied and there has been no change of tenants for some years now. The properties are well looked after by the tenants, who appear happy in their homes, despite increasing frailty.

 

a. Maintenance and Repairs.

 

Minor repairs and general maintenance of the two properties have continued as usual. The Trustees have just commissioned an updated quinquennial inspection of 1 and 2 The Retreat by Pellings LLP, following their previous one in 2003. This was delivered in February, and some of the recommended improvements have already been carried out. Repairs to the roof have been completed, and the other main recommendations (replacement of the remaining old windows and repairs to the brick boundary wall on the driveway) will be undertaken soon.

 

b. Finances.

 

The annual report shows that the finances remain very healthy.  There are net assets of £92,760.25, and income minus expenditure is £2328.02. A small rent rise of 2% was imposed in February.

5.      Penshurst School Governor’s Report:

 

New Building Completed   The new extension has been completed, adding a Library, New Office and Entrance to the School. The improvements have been exceptionally well received by visitors and parents.

School Roll   The number of pupils will be 107 at the beginning of term 5.

Academic Performance   The school has a rigorous system for monitoring children’s progress. Results in 2013 were generally well above the national average. Performance in Reading is particularly strong with 93% of Year 6 achieving level 5 in the Summer SATs.

To ensure progress is consistent for all children we have introduced a system of Spotlights whereby, for a specific period of time, children at all levels who have not made expected progress are targeted. This includes a full examination of why they are not progressing and interventions to bring about change.

Governing Body   The School Governing Body has been reorganised into 3 sub-committees. There will be less full Governing Body meetings per year, but more sub-committee body meetings and involvement in the development of strategic goals. This will come in to effect in September 2014

Government Sports Grant   This funding is aimed to raise the quality of sports teaching in the schools. The School has linked with the Tonbridge Sports Partnership to provide lesson demonstrations for teachers followed by later evaluation of their teaching.  Different classes have been entered into various Kent Games level 2 competitions. Results reflect the development in Sport that is being made at the School. The Year 3/4 Hockey Team came 1st in the local area completion and will go forward to represent Tonbridge in the Kent Games Final. Year 3/4 entered the Sports Hall Athletics competition and finished 3rd, whilst in the Infant Agility Competition Year 1/2 also finished 3rd. At a recent B Netball Tournament the Penshurst team came second.

Curriculum.   The School has been challenged to adapt its curriculum to meet the requirements of the New Government Curriculum to be in place by September 2014. Year 3/4 have worked alongside the High Weald Project studying the Stone Age through to the Iron Age. This involved completing the Penshurst Welly Walk, visiting the Penshurst Woodland to see coppicing and how wood is marketed and an outing to Harrison’s Rocks. The support from Penshurst Place has been much appreciated.

Our older children are studying the 1st World War this summer and will be supporting the Village exhibition and later presentation in November.

Extra-Curricular    We aim to offer opportunities for children to develop their abilities in various ways. For instance, we enter children into the Tunbridge Wells Speech and Drama Festival where they recite poems or read prose. Two children won Cups for their first place performance and were presented with these at the Gem Concert. We provide music tuition in violin, guitar, flute and recorder.

Through our link with Sound Hub, who are providing training for our music teacher, we have formed an ensemble who will be taking part in the Sevenoaks Commonwealth Event. We run clubs in football, rugby, karate, netball, craft, dance and drama, gymnastics, singing and new this year cheerleading.

Olympic Legacy    We were fortunate to have £1000 of funding to develop sporting opportunities as well as create a link with a Commonwealth country. Our country was Nigeria and this involved us skyping directly with the school in Nigeria.  Through this funding, we were able to provide Cheerleading sessions at lunchtime which have proved very popular!

Church   Our Worship has developed considerably this year, due to the formation of Leading Lights, which is a group of children who lead Worship.

Friends  Features of our year are the events organised by the Friends, run by Mrs Thorp. The Friends was set up over 15 years ago to raise the profile of the School in the Village. The highlight of the year is the Friends Tea party where the children invite (and entertain) a Friend at the School.

This year the Friends are providing us with an Eglu (chicken run), Fish Tank as well as a Cups’ Cabinet and Awards Board. We are particularly excited by the Eglu and Fish Tank which we intend to involve our quieter children in being responsible for their maintenance.

6.      Fordcombe School Governor’s Report:

 

The new headteacher, Chris Blackburn, took over from Ruth Bowers in September.  Initiatives implemented by Ofsted and the government necessitated a change in management structure at the school to create a new management team.   Strengthening of the role of subject leaders and the appointment of a Deputy Headteacher resulted in the accelerating the rate of improvement of Literacy and Maths.   The Governing Body structure has also changed with focus on changing expectations and responsibilities placed upon governors who now work with the Senior Management Team in accordance with the School Improvement Plan to achieve the School Improvement objectives.

 

Beech Class covered various topics including ‘Houses and Homes’, Dinosaurs and characters from the Pixar film and world of bears.

Ash Class visited Bedgebury Pinetum and during spring term learnt all about space, the summer term covered ‘All Sorts of Animals’.

Oak Class studied micro organisms during autumn together with healthy lifestyles and diet in science.  Geography covered Europe with a focus on water and rivers, and bread was the subject of design technology.   Spring term focused on Victorian history with a project on William Morris and a visit to Preston Manor.  In summer mountain environments were the geography project, textiles and collage in art, Sikhism in RE the environment, light and green plants in Science.  Spreadsheets and their effective use were covered in ICT.   Carroty Wood was visited to encourage team building and provided a range of outdoor education options.

Elm Class has generated many links between different areas of their learning.   Topics explored included ‘Pirates’, ‘The Stormin’ Normans’, India and Rainforests.   Visits undertaken included The Golden Hine and Battle Abbey and they also took part in ‘Pirate Day’, a Bollywood dance session and a Medieval living history workshop.

 

The Pupil Council consists of representatives from years two to six, these pupils consult with all the other children.   The main fund raising event was the ‘Money Mile’ which raised £200 which was used to improve the playground.

The Eco Committee consists of one pupil from years one to six and some of their interests have been recycling, bug towers, bid boxes and a sponsored sunflower grow.

The Gardening Club was badly affected by the poor cold and wet weather although the children were eventually able to collect strawberries and tomatoes.  It is hoped they can continue to improve the look for the grounds.

 

Extra-Curricular Clubs included Art, the Choir, Cross Country, Dance, Football, French, Gardening, Journalist Club, Knitting, Puzzle Club, Summer Sports and Tag Rugby.

 

The Parents’ Guild had another successful year raising money for the school, the activities contributing nearly £4,000 to the funds – a huge achievement for a school of this size.   Events and activities organised have included:  Cake and Summer Ice-Cream stall, Book Stall; Second-hand Clothes Stall, Childrens’ Discos and Fashion Show, Cookbook, Quiz Night, May Ball, Mums’ Fashion Show, Coffee Afternoons; Own Clothes Day, Masterchef Live Donations, Christmas Cards, Eco Christmas Tree, Village Fete Cake Stall.

School Project:  The 2013 Fordcombe CEP School Extension building project has been granted planning permission and the project is being funded by the Diocese to the value of £135,000.

7.      District Councillor Patrick Cooke:

The majority of planning applications had been resolved without issue, the Parish Council, parishioners and the District Council arriving at agreement after discussion where necessary.   The Forge Field project outcome is still awaited and was dealt with diligently on all sides.  The Becket Trust application was carefully considered by the Planning Committee.

Parking in Sevenoaks is an important issue and has generated much press coverage;  the committee are reviewing the proposal of tiered parking to give 200 extra spaces, they are checking the financial viability of this option.

The supermarket application for provision in Edenbridge was submitted to Eric Pickles for consideration who declined to become involved and advised the local authority to make the decision.  Waitrose has taken over the old Co-op site and is now open, Sainsbury’s and Tesco submitted applications, Sainsbury’s finally being awarded permission.   Edenbridge will now be served by the two large supermarkets.

The situation at Gatwick and the possibility of a further runway is being carefully monitored, Sir John Stanley is supporting Edenbridge Town Council in their detailed responses to the numerous consultation documents currently being processed.   Complaints regarding the composition of the GATCOM committees have been received, this issue also being carefully watched.   A number of local Parish Council including Penshurst, Chiddingstone, Leigh and Hever have amalgamated in order to give strong support to response submissions in order that they are able to make themselves heard.

 

A number of Parish Councils are considering legal action via a Judicial Review in relation to Grant Support they consider the District Council should make available and pass on to them from the main Government grant to District and Borough Council.   SDC have advised that if the Government identifies the funding which should be allocated to PCs they will pass this on.   Funding lost by the district council could result in a reduction in services to provide such funding.

 

A police scrutiny meeting of the advisory group in June will confirm an increase in police and support officers to assist with problems caused by crime in rural areas.

 

Further funding is still available for local good causes from the Community Fund allocated by SDC, any projects which support the community can be considered.

 

Cllr Cooke was heartened by the number of local people attending the Judicial Review relating to Forge Field including members of West Kent Housing, Penshurst Estate, the Parish Council, SDC as well as parishioners.   He felt this showed what a supportive, fantastic ward Penshurst and Fordcombe is and sincerely hoped that all will accept the result and move on after the decision is made public.

 

Cllr Cooke recorded his thanks for the support of parishioners and the Parish Council and clerk.

 

8.      Kent County Councillor Clive Pearman:

 

The analogy of KCC and a supertanker holds good in so far as the County Council is concerned, but with one important caveat – the County Council is not quite ‘all at sea!’

 

As a large organisation, costing many millions of pounds to run, employing large numbers of staff, and providing a range of services virtually all the major ones – education, health, highways and social care – being the subject of legislation and legally-binding commitments, any change of course or the introduction of anything new takes time and patience.

 

This was exactly the case when, in May of last year – 2013 – following the County Council elections, the political landscape of the 84 elected councillors changed significantly, creating a party political profile as follows – Conservatives 45, UKIP 17, Labour 13, Liberal Democrats 7, Green Party 1, and Swanscombe and  Greenhithe Residents Association 1.  The percentages reflected in the above party spread then had to be proportionately distributed over 12 major committees of the Council, 9 sub-committees, and County Council representation on a plethora of the committees of other authorities, joint committees and partnership bodies.  Given that this was the first time that UKIP councillors had been elected, it is no surprise to find that this allocation responsibility took the best part of 3 months to achieve.  Then, of course, it was into the height of summer and the peak leave period, so it was not until September that elected members really found themselves involved in County Council work.

 

The conversation during these early months was of the County Council’s requirement to contribute to Central Government’s austerity programme which meant, of course and following straight on the heels of 3 years of the initial austerity programme, further savings were going to be essential, although their magnitude was, at this time, still unknown.  That said, however, it was made clear to all of the councillors that savings and ‘shavings at the margins’ had already been maximised;  there was now no other action than to fundamentally determine how the services which were then being provided could somehow be changed so as to achieve the next round of savings.  With no increase in Council Tax, the savings which had been achieved over the previous 3 financial years stood at £269m and represented 28% of current net spend, savings which had been brought about by a need to meet the combination of reduced Central Government funding  and additional spending demands.

 

As the budgetary figures became clearer, savings for this 2014-15 financial year are around £91m, a figure which is likely to be broadly similar for each of the next 3 financial years.  The September meeting of the full County Council was therefore presented with what is known as the Transformation Project by which it is intended that Kent County Council becomes a fully strategic commissioning body, contracting out the delivery of as many services as is possible to the private, public and community / voluntary sectors, and with a particular emphasis on small and medium-sized enterprises.  By placing a focus on small and local service provision it is intended that the best possible service will be delivered at the best possible price.  In so doing, the County Council recognises that although it can contract out the responsibility for the actual delivery of services, the accountability for all aspects of that service delivery remains firmly with the Council.  Balancing the equation of ‘best possible service’ at ‘best possible price’ places a greater emphasis on local knowledge and local involvement, although the mechanics of achieving this still have to be determined.

 

As we have moved into the new financial year, and in the weeks ahead, much of the detail of how this commissioning process will operate will become clearer.  There will, however, be a new organisational re-alignment, which is gradually being introduced as of the 1st April, with old and familiar names and designations being left behind as new ones are adopted.  Confusion will, inevitably, exist for a while as this process unfolds, so everyone patience and support will be required so as to begin to make the necessary changes and, therefore, the required savings, as soon as possible.

 

As one small cog in a wheel of 84 there is, arguably, little that one councillor can achieve.  There have and will remain, however, avenues where each councillor can make a small difference locally.  My contribution along these lines has been through the allocation of the Community Grant and Highways Fund, sums of money which each County Councillor has had at our disposal.  In terms of the Parish of Penshurst, I did not receive any requests for the financing of events or projects from my Community Grant Fund.  That said, however, grants were made to organisations which provided a range of services across Sevenoaks District and at which Penshurst residents had the opportunity to participate.  Never fear, though, that money from this fund did not get spent!   I received a number of requests from the other parishes which enabled me to allocate grants to a range of organisations throughout the Sevenoaks South Electoral Division and which was reported to all Parish Councils in my monthly up-date report of November / December of last year.

 

In terms of the Highways Fund, I have allocated money to projects throughout Sevenoaks South Division, and Penshurst is benefitting from this source of funding in proposals of creating improvements to the Long Bridge and its approaches.  Working closely with the Parish Council and Kent Highways, various options have been explored in how to reduce the speed of all vehicles approaching the bridge, and of improving the conditions for pedestrians in particular.  These roads were not, of course, ever designed with the rate of traffic use which we are seeing these days in mind, nor with the size of modern vehicles, both breadth and length.  The problem is, one might say, compounded by the sheer legality of all and every proposed change to any aspect of the highway, but we have to acknowledge that all proposals for such changes have to be the subject of both legal and technical appraisal, irrespective of any subsequent costs which might be involved.  I am sure, however, that improvements will be identified and, subsequent to agreement by the Parish Council, should be actioned within the near future.  That they have not already been identified and introduced to date is because of the inevitable delay which has resulted from Kent Highways having to re-prioritise its work schedule in order to meet the demands of damaged road surfaces created by the appalling weather which we experienced post this past Christmas.

 

These Members schemes of grants and funds have been subject to the austerity savings regime.  The two are to be amalgamated into one, entitled the Combined Member Grant, with the amount being reduced to £25K for each councillor.  There will, as a consequence, be a greater emphasis on investing in projects which give a longer life cycle of benefit other than a single day’s activity.

 

Finally, if there is one contribution which I can claim to have made, it is that of acting as a channel through to the County Council where local concerns regarding aviation matters could be both raised and demand to be heard.  In this I have done nothing else than to have acted as the mouthpiece, taking forward the hard work which was undertaken by the Parish Councillors and the Parish Clerk in processing the various consultation documents and opportunities presented by the Davies Aviation Commission and other organisations.  Those concerns and aspirations have, I know, been heard, and Kent County Council’s responses to a number of such opportunities now better reflects the concerns and aspirations of the local residential and business communities.

 

And that, and with my personal thanks to all of you for your continued support, and for distributing my monthly up-date reports, concludes my report for this past year.

Clive Pearman

9.      Community Support Police Officer Steve Vincent – ASB Response

CSU Vincent was covering the parish together with two other reserves whilst CPSO Dave O’Neil was away on sick leave, it was hoped he would be back soon.

A programme of providing anti tamper screws to prevent number plate theft had been working in the area.   On line meetings were being held for committees who could not get to the scheduled surgeries.   Bike marking was also being offered at local events to reduce thefts throughout the district.

A mobile text system for farmers at present being used in the Sussex and Surrey area was being expanded through Kent under the name of Country Eye.   This would be similar to Neighbourhood Watch but would be used for warning farmers and businesses of any crimes in their area.

Between April 2013 and March 2014 the following crimes had occurred in Penshurst, Fordcombe and Chiddingstone:

·         Burglary in dwellings                              4 for the year

·         Vehicle theft                                          1 for the year

·         Criminal damage                                    8 for the year

·         Shop Lifting                                           1 for the year

·         Bike Theft/damage                                 0 for the year

A question regarding the painting of the inside to telephone boxes to facilitate the theft of money was asked, CSPO Vincent advised that there had been a spike in thefts but many telephones now have alarms fitted, this having become popular in London.

10.  Alms Houses & Neighbourhood Watch Report:  Mr Peter Johnson

 

Alms Houses:  During the past year considerable work has been carried out to the Almshouses, particularly relating to the inside decoration.  The three residences comprising a sitting room, a bed room, kitchen, bathroom and toilet have been completely re-decorated.  The central heating has also been subject to attention.  Although the entire building is subject to an Almshouse Association inspection every five years, the most recent work introduced more modern colours and layouts in the rooms to the satisfaction of all the affected residents.

 

During this year, the remaining residences, those with combined bed and sitting rooms, will be worked upon with similar intentions.   Also requiring attention is the elimination of dampness in the walls of the property in general, particularly the ground floor homes.  The building was constructed in 1897 in its present form of construction and in those days the modern method of keeping out dampness was not available.

 

There is a vacancy at the present time and the Trustees will meet in the near future to consider the applicants.  The vacant residency has a separate bedroom for which we have some applicants but, if there are others who wish to be considered please contact us during the coming fortnight.  If the applicants require a copy of the Conditions of residency please apply to the Clerk to the Trustees at 2 The Glebe, Penshurst TN11 8DR. 01892 870619.   You will be required to have some connection with the villages of Penshurst or Fordcombe to be successful in your application.

 

Neighbourhood Watch:  During the past six months, although crime in the villages has occurred there have not been the same problems that were common two or three years ago.  Fordcombe has been subject to four crimes and Penshurst three during the past six months.  Only two of the crimes involved entering a residence, all the others related to entry into outbuildings, garden sheds, garages and associated buildings.   A motor bike was stolen from a drive leading to a house, also two cases of flytipping have been reported by the farmers.

 

Scams are particularly troublesome at the present time.  If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is!   There is one scam involving a letter of introduction advising the recipient that they have possibly been left large sums of money by a relative who is named.   There is a shop at Bluewater Shopping Centre Area being used by Police to distribute information and is known as the ‘One Stop Shop’.  The police disseminate information relating to practically all methods of crime avoidance including alarm systems of all types, if you have a problem it is well worth a visit.

 

Speedwatch (1):   The organisation of the Penshurst Parish Council Speedwatch is associated with Neighbourhood Watch, but organised separately.  It functions excellently and when speaking to Sevenoaks Police this morning, I mentioned that they usually carry out three or four watches a week, each lasting two hours.  Sevenoaks Police expressed surprise at the number of watches they were carrying out and expressed their appreciation for their work.

 

During the past eight weeks the teams have registered 1852 vehicles passing the team at 35 MPH and over in a 30 MPH location. Many Speedwatch sites often have no footpaths and in some instances no verges either.  The highest speeds recorded on the unit on the Fordcombe Road at Glebelands was 92MPH and 120MPH.

 

Clearly the speeding vehicles registered by the team are totally unacceptable on the roads that pass by Primary Schools in both Penshurst and Fordcombe.   Who are the criminals?  Those described in Neighbourhood Watch or in Speed Watch?  Both, I suggest!

 

11.       Gatwick Airport:

 

Michael Knowles reported that the Parish Council’s involvement in participating in the consultation processes on Airports, Airspace and the other proposals from Gatwick Airport had been widely reported.  The Council recognised that potential changes to the direction and frequency of overflying aircraft could have a profound influence on the quality of life for residents and the level of enjoyment of our countryside for those seeking a refuge at weekends or holidays. Other parish, town and borough councils are becoming involved as the threat of the expansion of Gatwick Airport becomes more apparent. Penshurst has joined with Chiddingstone, Hever and Leigh for an additional collective approach to these issues under the umbrella of the High Weald Parish Councils Aviation Action Group. This combined approach has already had an influence on Kent County Council’s airspace policy.

The Council has recently responded to the London Airspace Consultation (LAC) process which sets out proposals to alter the way that aircraft land and take off. Currently the landing approach to Gatwick Airport for aircraft flying in a westerly direction, which accounts for around 75% of all flights and most affects Penshurst and surrounding districts, is from a stack (see image 1) 25- 30 miles from the airport and then they are vectored across a broad swathe (see image2) before joining the final approach to Gatwick just to the east of Hever. This broad swathe approach with tactical vectoring allows a distribution of flights across a wide front and a continuous respite throughout the day for those affected by aircraft passing overhead from 3000 feet to around 7000 feet. The LAC seeks to alter this tried and proven system to a so-called Point Merge approach.

Point Merge proposals seek to change the traditional stacking areas to a new fan shaped holding pattern where aircraft would be continually crisscrossing until finally called off for the landing approach along a fixed flight path, rather than the current broad swathe. No indication was given where this would be and with only the suggestion that an alternative respite approach might be considered. There was no compensation procedures for those that would be most affected with aircraft passing overhead every few minutes – night and day and total disregard for the poor quality of life that would have to be endured. The justification for the proposals of reduced CO2 emissions and less people being affected by overflying aircraft was, in the Councils’ opinion, not proven but rather the contrary as Gatwick Airport Limited hoped to increase flights if Point Merge was introduced.

There are a number of other areas where the Parish Council’s representatives have been involved including a response to the Airport Commission enquiry, excessive aircraft noise, low flying aircraft, night flights and the threat of a second runway at Gatwick Airport. The meeting was reminded of the importance of individual registering valid complaints with Gatwick Airport Limited of aircraft nuisance on noise, low flights or the frequency of overflying aircraft. There have been times where over twenty aircraft have overflown Penshurst in the space of one hour in a continuous stream, some of which have taken place late in the evening and contrary to the expected best practice of tactical vectoring. This was particularly worrisome as over half the flights are by the airbus A319/230/321 series of aircraft which has a high airframe whine causing the maximum of disturbance. Representatives of the Council have been in direct correspondence with Gatwick Airport Limited, Easyjet – the main operator of this type of aircraft at Gatwick, and all our local MPs to bring about modifications that would significantly reduce this nuisance. Easyjet have now confirmed that all new aircraft delivered from May this year will have the necessary modifications.

The meeting was advised of the inadequacy of the current noise monitoring procedures at all UK airports based on an arcane method known as ANCON Leq 57dBa the metrics of which are based on a continuous decibel reading over a 16 hour day around an airport. There were no statutory laws in the UK specifically governing the noise of planes on their long flight approach to an airport. Aircraft noise is governed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) certification process which classifies aircraft as Chapters 1, 2, 3 or 4 and most modern jets fall into the last two categories. Aircraft performance on sound energy volumes is monitored at either end of a runway and laterally. Beyond this measurements are taken for this arcane ANCON system which produces sound contour lines around an airport based on the average over a 16 hour day. These will only extend a mile or so parallel to a runway and around 9 miles distance at each end. They have no relevance to the vast number of people affected by airport noise and who are unrecorded save for the airport’s complaints procedures. There are restrictions on night flights and for Gatwick airport between 11pm and 6am but they are sufficiently generous to allow a maximum of 11,200 flights in the summer months.

 

Due to the inadequacy of the ANCON noise modelling system it was important for residents to register their own genuine complaints of aircraft nuisance with Gatwick Airport Limited to help build their data base and there are recognised procedures for this. If it is an aircraft at a particular time of day that residents wish to complain about with specific details these can be found for Laptop and PC users at  http://www.gatwickairport.com/business-community/aircraft-noise/  (or, just search Gatwick Noise or Gatwick Casper http://flighttracking.casper.aero/lgw/ ). If residents click on the right hand side box labelled FLIGHT TRACKER a flight map will appear showing all aircraft movements at Gatwick Airport 20 minutes behind real time. The time and date can be chosen (up to 2 months past) and the aircraft can be selected with the cursor overhead of Penshurst or where the complaint is from: its track, flight number, height and other details will be revealed. Complaints can be made by returning to the original web page with a box labelled NOISE ENQUIRY. NOISE ENQUIRY is also available for Ipad users but an App has to be used to monitor flight paths.

 

For a simple  approach to Gatwick Airport for noise, low flying or frequency of flights complaint they can be by phone on 0800 393070 or by email to noise.line@gatwickairport.com giving date, place and time of nuisance.

 

The meeting was advised of the substantial support given by Gatwick Airport Conservation Campaign (GACC) to individuals and local councils in the fight on the excessive intrusion that commercial interests can have on the quality of life. Their research and publicity have greatly assisted in a professional and widely advertised campaign and residents were encourage to visit their web page at www.gacc.org.uk and join with them against the intrusion of an expanded Gatwick Airport.

Michael Knowles

 

12.       Speedwatch (2):   Mr Norman Furnell

 

Mr Furnell advised Mr Sellings was unable to attend due to ill health but remained very active in the team.

 

The speeds recorded of vehicles entering the village during checks give cause for concern although unusually high speeds recorded and downloaded from the sign at the bottom of Glebelands on 1 November 2013 and 20 February 2014 could be an anomaly.

 

A graph indicating the speeds recorded between 1 November 2013 and 28 February 2014 was provided for those attending.   This showed a general speed of between 50 – 60 MPH and the average was 90,000 per week.   Less than 20 a day travel at 50+ but 20-30% exceed the speed limit.

 

The use of the SID still has an impact on traffic, although initially this was stronger.   Police checks have been organised and these obviously have a great impact.

 

The Speedwatch Team cannot generate prosecutions however, drivers are warned when reported by letter, if they are recorded speeding on four occasions the police deliver the letter by hand.   Regular patterns and times of speeding enable the team to arrange police teams to attend.