Covid-19 rumbles on and the level of infections and deaths remains significant. However, we will hopefully be able to get through winter without any further lockdowns. This will certainly help if parishioners make sure they have been vaccinated, both double jabbed and then take the booster when they are called. We are fortunate that East Kent has a relatively low infection rate, but we do still need to be vigilant and take a common sense approach to risk.
We are still engaging with Kent Highways regarding the future development of our HIP (Highway Improvement Plan). The new Zebra Crossing on London Road just past the Alkham Valley Road junction is now fully functioning and should make crossing London Road safer in this part of the village. We will next be looking at calming and slowing traffic as it passes along London Road through the village. Another issue we will be discussing is how to reduce the number of commercial vehicles that bottom out and get stuck at the turn into Wellington Road from the Lydden direction because of the gradient and camber at this point.
Also on our agenda is bringing back a Lollipop person to make it safer for children crossing London Road from Templeside, getting to and from school. The head teacher at the school is currently assessing amongst parents whether this is a service that would be used sufficiently to warrant the recruitment. It is hoped this would reduce traffic around the school at arrival/departure time. It may also encourage greater use of Dragon Wood car park which, as I mentioned last time, now has a much improved surface.
If we get a positive response, we will be working with the school to recruit someone to undertake this work. Please contact the Parish Clerk if you would be interested in this post. It is a paid role and involves 45 minutes morning and afternoon during term time.
We have been informed that planning permission has been granted for the redevelopment of the Railway Bell site. This will involve 6 apartments in the existing building and 3 pairs of semi- detached houses to be built on the car park and garden. We will aim to work with the developer to make sure there is the minimum amount of disruption. We have also been negotiating with Dover District Council to have some of the money that the developer has to provide for the local community, to be used on upgrading open spaces around the village. We will report more on this as soon as we have any more news.
Remembrance this year was particularly poignant in the village as not only was there a church service for the school on the 11th November, but there was a Service of Remembrance which was well attended, that took place on Sunday 14th November also at St Peter and St Paul Church. The Parish Council announced last month that we had purchased our own “Tommy” statue which was installed before the 14th November at Players Corner, overlooking and keeping guard over our Stone of Remembrance. In addition to the laying of wreaths at the War Memorial in the Churchyard, there was a dedication of this other point of remembrance in the village by Reverend Ian Parrish and also the laying of wreaths. We hope that these services provided ample opportunity for local residents to pay respects to those villagers and family members who bravely gave their lives during both World Wars and any more recent conflicts.
Arrangements are well in hand for the annual village Christmas light turn on ceremony which this year will be held on Sunday 5th December at 5.30pm at Players Corner. We have booked Betteshanger Colliery Band to play Christmas favourites, there will be mince pies and mulled wine, a snow machine and we have been told that Santa Claus will find time to join us and distribute gifts to children. The Parish Clerk has been busy travelling to Lapland to choose a special tree which will be decorated and festooned with lights before the event. Please put this in your diaries and bring your families to enjoy good cheer at this traditional start of Christmas festivities in the village.
A meeting was held regarding the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee which will take place next year over the weekend of the 2nd to 5th of June. Plans were discussed and the various village activities will soon be revealed that will take place.
The village pump has looked rather sad for some time. We have just commissioned the work to have the pump removed, sand blasted, given a fresh coat of paint and then to be re-installed, hopefully in time for Christmas. We also will try to smarten up the area around the pump.
From time to time we see drones flying over the hills around the village. This is a notice that all users must be registered and complete online training. They must also not fly their drones within 50 metres of people, vehicles or buildings unless permission has been granted by those affected.
The weather has been relatively mild and dry so far this autumn and as we go into winter I am sure we all hope that it continues to be so. As many of you know, I am involved with athletics and have recently attended a number of cross country races around Kent. The runners are certainly pleased by the forgiving conditions underfoot and hope that the usual wet and muddy conditions endured most winters may not impede their efforts later in the winter.
Thank you for reading and please remember that there will be no Parish Council meeting or Newsletter at the end of December. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and look forward to writing to you again at the end of January.
Glenn Mousley – Chairman of the Parish Council