Next Meeting of the Parish Council: Thursday 9th May 2019
Annual Meeting of the Parish Council at 7.30 p.m. in Ruckinge Village Hall. The public notice and agenda may be downloaded here one week before the meeting.
Accounts for the year ended 31 march 2018. The official notice may be downloaded here: Audit Notice – Ruckinge 2018.
May elections for the parish council
After 5 years as chairman, it is time to pass the baton to new blood. As many of you will know, May elections will be held for borough and parish councillors; there will be at least two vacancies to fill on Ruckinge Parish Council. If you are interested then please stand for election (or co-option) – full details may be found via this link
Why become a Parish Councillor?
Put simply, you can make a difference. When people in the community need support and guidance, it is often the parish council that is turned to – recent examples have been:
- Sewage infrastructure: Bromley Green Road – continuing remedial action taken by Southern Water (still very much a work in progress).
- Carters Field: Returned to the community and dedicated as a ‘Field in Trust’ as part of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
- Ashford Local Plan: Support of both the ‘Rural Means Rural’ campaign and Landscape Protection Policy initiative with other Saxon Shore parishes.
So, by becoming a parish councillor you become someone our community will look to for help, guidance and support; a community leader with the power to influence decisions for the benefit of the people you serve.
What decisions does it make?
We make all kinds of decisions on issues that affect the parish. The most common are planning matters (we are statutory consultees), crime prevention, managing open spaces (Carters Field), maintaining our highways and byways, providing financial support for our village halls.
It’s true to say that on we have limited powers to make decisions. But we DO have the ability to negotiate with, and the power to influence other organisations that do make the final decisions (such as the borough council, KCC highways, police etc).
In this respect the parish council is powerful. The organisations that make the final decisions know that our parish council gives the best reflection of how a community feels about something, and its views will be taken seriously.
How much time does it take up?
The parish council meets on the first Thursday of each month (except August and January). Meetings usually last up to two hours, depending on the agenda. Councillors are required to attend other meeting representing the council, for example, acting as a representative on an outside body like the Kent Association of Local Councils, community activities, or helping develop a new project for the community.
How long does a parish councillor serve for?
Once elected, parish councillors sit on the council for a maximum of four years. If they then want to stay in the post they can stand for re-election.
Am I eligible to be a Parish Councillor?
To stand for election on a parish council, you must:
- be a UK or commonwealth citizen, or;
- be a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, or;
- be a citizen of another Member state of the European Union;
- be a least 18 years old.
To be eligible to stand for an election for a particular parish, you must:
- be an elector of the parish, or;
- for the whole of the previous 12 months have occupied (as owner or tenant) land or other premises in the parish, or;
- during the previous 12 months have worked in the parish (as your principal or only place of work), or;
- for the whole of the previous 12 months lived in the parish or within three miles of the parish boundary.
You don’t have to be connected to a political party. If you do become a parish councillor you will have to sign up to the Code of Conduct.
What powers do parish councils have?
They have a wide range of powers which essentially related to local matters, such as looking after community buildings, open spaces, street lighting. The council also has the power to raise money through taxation, called the precept; it is the parish council’s share of the council tax.
Ruckinge Parish Council has 7 Councillors. The duties and functions are many and varied. The Council meets monthly and considers planning applications and any other matters referred to it by local residents. Ashford Borough Council and by central government. All meetings are open to the public and there is a forum during the meeting at which members of the public can raise concerns and ask questions. There is also an annual meeting which all parishioners are invited to attend. All meetings are advertised on the council notice board outside Ruckinge Village Hall. Residents can bring to the attention of the parish council anything that concerns them, either directly or through the clerk. If matters raised are not the responsibility of the council, the clerk can bring them to the attention of the proper authority.
The best way to find out what it’s like to be a parish councillor is to talk to someone who’s doing it now. Come along to a parish council meeting, or speak to one of our councillors and find out what they think of the job.
Ashford Local Plan – Planning Inspectorate report
Report on the Examination of the Ashford Local Plan 2030 by The Planning Inspectorate. The Plan was submitted for examination on 21 December 2017. The examination hearings were held between 11 April and 13 June 2018. The report was published on 2 January 2019. Click this link to download it
Here is the direct link to the ABC web site where the source documents can be found: Local Plan
Village Confines exerise
Planning Officers at Ashford Borough Council have drawn the confines around a number of rural settlements in the borough.including Ruckinge Parish. The Council intend to confirm this mapped line for the purposes of determining future relevant planning applications.
The exercise is intended to be for clarification purposes only, and does not change the meaning of the Council’s planning policies or their application. It does not make development of a site more or less likely to occur. It is merely an exercise to visually represent the confines of certain settlements, using the long established written definition as the guide. The definition which underpins the drawn confines is established in the emerging Local Plan 2030 which states a village confines is the:
“limits of continuous and contiguous development forming the existing built-up area of the settlement, excluding any curtilage beyond the built footprint of the buildings on the site (e.g. garden areas)”.
Click the link to download the draft Ruckinge village confines
Bromley Green Road – Southern Water public meeting
A public meeting will be held on Thursday 22nd November at 7:00 pm in Bromley Green Hall, chaired by Borough Councillor Jane Martin. Representatives of Southern Water will present a summary of works carried out to date, and outline further actions planned to improve the sewage infrastructure,
Police Community Support Officer (PCSO)
Aaron Newell is the Saxon Shore PCSO. He is on hand to deal with your concerns about any crime and anti-social behaviour and can also give you some advice to help you protect yourself, your home and your property from crime. Contact- T: 101 – to speak to him or be put through to an officer best placed to deal with your enquiry. E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Illegal fly-tipping in the Parish
There have been three incidents of fly-tipping in the parish this month in Hog Tub Lane, and Poundhurst Road. If you see any fly-tipping please use the form on the ABC web site to report it – accessed via this link.
Carters Field – vandalism
The padlock and chain to the main field gate has been removed and now replaced; horses were seen grazing in the field. If you see any suspicious activity then please report it to the police. This is our Queens Diamond Jubilee field for the enjoyment of all.
Rural Means Rural
The campaign for Rural Means Rural is the voice of residents in the villages surrounding Ashford, Kent, who are concerned about the inappropriate housing development in the countryside and damage to the rural environment. Here are links to Facebook, 38o Petition and Twitter pages where you can make your voice heard.
‘Omission’ sites – Ruckinge
Update November 2017: The two sites within the parish boundary (shown below) submitted to ABC for inclusion in the Ashford Local Plan and initially rejected, have been re-submitted for reconsideration, and are on the ‘reserve’ list of sites that could be considered by ABC in December. Here are links to the submission cover letter to ABC by the Landowner dated 30th August 2017, and the representation made by the Developer dated 10th August 2017.
As of now the Parish Council has not been alerted formally of the revised submission. We infer from this action that there is a very real chance that the sites will appear in the Draft Local Plan put to the Local Planning Inspectorate in the coming weeks.
Ashford Local Plan
Here are links to information to view and documents to download:
- Local plan – view: home page
- Local plan guidance note – download: Viewing comments
- Local Plan 2030 – download: Frequently Asked Questions
Relevant extract from plan – change of status for Ruckinge:
The planning status of Ruckinge parish is about to change, when the Ashford Local Plan is adopted – here is the key extract:
Policy HOU4 – Residential Development in the rural settlements
Minor residential development and infilling of a scale that can be easily integrated into the existing settlement will be acceptable within the confines of the following settlements:
Aldington, Appledore, Appledore Heath, Bethersden, Biddenden, Bilsington, Boughton Lees/Eastwell, Brabourne Lees/Smeeth, Brook, Challock, Charing, Charing Heath, Chilham, Crundale, Egerton, Egerton Forstal, Godmersham, Great Chart, Hamstreet, Hastingleigh, High Halden, Hothfield, Kenardington, Little Chart, Mersham, Molash, Newenden, Old Wives Lees, Pluckley, Pluckley Thorne, Pluckley Station, Rolvenden, Rolvenden Layne, Ruckinge, Shadoxhurst, Shottenden, Smarden, Stone in Oxney, Tenterden (including St Michaels) Warehorne, Westwell, Wittersham, Woodchurch and Wye.
Landscape and Village Protection Policy (LVPP)
Ruckinge Parish Council endorses the Landscape and Village Protection Policy and will be taking steps to work with subject matter experts to develop a plan for the parish.
Update: May 2018: The ABC Draft Plan is being reviewed by the Planning Inspectorate. On 1st May written representation of the Landscape Protection Policy was presented by Peter Brett Associates. A copy of their submission may be downloaded here
Here is a link where you can download a protection policy prepared by consultants on behalf of Aldington Parish submitted to the planning policy manager officer at Ashford Borough Council responsible for the Ashford Plan. The contents list policy categories, and supporting evidence. The overriding objective is formal adoption of the policy into the Local Plan.
Borough Councillor: Jane Martin has produced a newsletter on ‘Saxon Shore Matters’ including the LVPP that parishioners should be aware of – you may download it here
Ashford Borough Council received a revised planning application for change of use of land to use as a residential caravan site for one gypsy family with two caravans, including retention of hardstanding and erection of utility building. The application was rejected and an enforcement order applied. The applicant appealed against the enforcement order: Ref: APP/E2205/C/15/3137477. An inquiry was held into the appeal, adjudicated by The Planning Inspectorate.
Update 7th November: The appeal has been dismissed by The Planning Inspectorate, and the enforcement notice upheld. A copy of the appeal decision can be downloaded via this link Appeal Decision.
Carters Field – Picnic Tables.
We are looking for a group of volunteers to become ‘Friends of Carters Field’ to manage and publicise the amenity for the enjoyment of all parishioners. If you are interested please email: email@example.com.
We have replaced the two picnic tables stolen last July.
Parish Speed Indicator Device (SID) Scheme
The Parish Council has decided with much reluctance to suspend the Speed Indicator Device (SID) initiative for our village. We cannot find an adequate location for the sighting of a device mounting pole on the Eastern approach to Ruckinge along the B2067 Hamstreet Road.
We have had several meetings with KCC Highways on this matter, resulting in their requirement for a Deed of Easement to be executed by identified landowner(s) to allow the pole to be installed on their land; the legal covenants contained therein have proved too onerous.
In a sense, we are victims of geography; there are so few suitable locations that meet KCC Highways criteria to install the device.
Comments from parishioners welcomed…..
A new streetlight has been installed outside the churchyard.