Ashford borough Council have notified us of a phone scam around council tax which is currently in circulation.
This particular scam involves calls from a company called Greystone Recovery. The caller claims to have information relating to incorrect council tax banding and saying that the recipient is entitled to refunds.
These calls are not coming from the council, and are unrelated to genuine text messages that get sent out from the council about council tax arrears.
If you are in any doubt about the legitimacy of a call, whether they claim to be calling from the council, or another organisation, it is important to hang up and not give any information to the caller.
If you think your house may be in the wrong Council Tax Band read Martin Lewis’s advice on Money Saving Expert on how to check and and request re-assessment. Do read the whole of the article as, although there is no charge for re-assessment, it includes warnings about what could happen if the current banding is correct or too low.
There are a number of legitimate companies named Greystone or Grey Stone. We are not aware of any which provide Council Tax recovery services.
Ashford Borough Council is currently in the process of contingency planning for the possibility that daily bin collections will be adversely affected, due to potential disruption caused by traffic congestion across the borough, following the Brexit EU exit transition on the 1st January 2021.
ABC has been working with both the Government and KCC to ensure that additional waste collection and disposal resources are funded and work closely together. We have agreed longer working hours and priority delivery slots for our collection vehicles at the transfer station, as well as additional operating hours for collections crews. ABC will be taking a number of actions to minimise disruption to collections and to ensure they are completed in a timely manner, whilst keeping residents updated. These actions will include:
Residents being asked to present bins, when possible, the evening before collection, if this isn’t possible we will be asking residents to present them no later than 6am on the morning of collection.
The contractor will be providing additional collection crews to continue collections after 6pm if needed, to do our utmost to ensure collections are completed. If necessary, additional collection crews will be working late into the evening. Staff from the Street Scene service will be working rotational shifts to ensure service is monitored throughout so that issues that we can resolve (outside traffic congestion) are dealt with promptly. Missed collections can be reported here www.ashford.gov.uk/report/
The Council will be highlighting that additional recycling can be placed in clear sacks or cardboard boxes, or held over to place in the recycle bin once emptied.
The council will be posting regular updates on social media and on the council website, regarding the status of collections, to ensure residents understand what is happening so they can act accordingly.
ABC will continue working with Kent County Council and their contractor Biffa to ensure we deliver the most effective service possible for our residents.
Members of Ashford Borough Council’s Planning Committee have again, this evening, deferred making a decision on a proposal to redevelop the Homeplus site at the junction of Beaver Road and Avenue Jacques Faucheux.
The application was originally considered by the Committee on 17th June 2020 when the Committee voted to defer a decision ‘for Officers to seek clarification and scheme amendments as necessary from the applicant to deal with … … improvements to the overall quality of design across the whole site based on Members’ comments on design issues …’
The application was due to be considered again on 16th September but was withdrawn from the agenda to address Habitat Regulations matters – believed to relate to the potential impact arising from excessive nutrients from waste water discharges on wetland sites at Stodmarsh.
At this evening’s Committee Meeting the Committee again deferred the application because they considered that the applicants had not fully addressed the issues raised at the June meeting.
Members also expressed concern that all developer’s Section 106 obligations would be deferred as the development did not meet nationally set viability limits.
Ashford Borough Council are consulting on a proposal to demolish 24 council owned garages in Harper Road and construct 4 houses.
The Council are holding an online consultation in place of a consultation event at a local public venue due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Following the consultation the Council will consider comments received and where possible adapt the proposals before they are submitted as a full planning application.
The proposal is for four x 2-bedroom houses. The intention is that they will be allocated to people on ABC’s housing waiting list needing social and affordable rental homes. ABC aim to set affordable rent levels on these homes that are around 60-80% of market rent levels in the area. This is to ensure the homes are genuinely affordable to those who are housed in them. These levels will be within the Local Housing Allowance.
ABC anticipate, that subject to obtaining the relevant planning permissions, work would begin on site within a year and that the build time will be around eight months.
Consultation Period extended to 31st August Participate using link at foot of notes
Oakleigh House Development
Date Tuesday 11 August 2020
Committee: R. Shrubb (Chair), J. Shrubb,
Councillors: Cllr L. Suddards (ABC, Beaver), Cllr C. Suddards (ABC, Victoria)
Council Officers: ABC: M. James, G. Holloway, L. Mason
Other Attendees: Names of ordinary members and other attendees are withheld to maintain privacy
Bob Shrubb (BS) opened the meeting welcoming attendees and introduced councillors and council officers.
BS displayed drawings of the proposals from the PRP consultation video.
Features brought to the attention of attendees were:
Extent of site including existing Oakleigh House site, adjacent ‘Star Block’ and surrounding land, grassed area between Watercress Lane and Cross Stile
Main block: 3 storeys reducing to 2 storeys near to adjacent housing
Single storey ‘Mews cottages’ adjacent existing properties
Disabled adult accommodation (on plot between Watercress Lane and Cross Stile) 2½ storeys.
‘Shared space’ (tabletop crossing) between entrances to buildings.
Opportunities for community landscape improvements on ‘avenue’ between disabled unit and existing houses and opposite side of Beaver Lane
3 ABC introduction to scheme
Giles Holloway introduced the scheme, raising the following points:
The single storey mews cottages will distance the main block from adjacent properties.
ABC are considering making these available for sale on the open market.
The scheme is part of ABC’s strategy for addressing the needs of the ageing population; by 2037, in Kent, only Dartford is expected to have a higher number of residents exceeding 65 years.
The existing building is obsolete and not fit for purpose; accessibility is poor, the building is not dementia friendly, does not address the needs of the partially sighted. The site layout and presentation of Oakleigh Court and the Star Block are poor.
Those given priority for renting the units in the independent living accommodation are:
People 60+ in good health.
50+ with health needs
Units will be adaptable for ambulant disabled and wheelchair users
This development will compliment existing facilities at Farrow Court and Danemore (Tenterden) and those in progress at East Stour Court (Willesborough) and Poplars (Kingsnorth Road).
Provision has been made for parking spaces in Cross Stile to address the issue of parking on the grassed area.
4 Councillor’s Comments
Cllr Lyn Suddards said she supported the concept of the scheme but was concerned about the impact of the loss of green space on existing residents.
5 Residents’ Comments
The meeting was opened for comments from residents.
The main issue that concerns residents is the loss of the green space, which it was said is used by those with young families and offers an area where they can play safely under supervision.
It was asked whether the adult disabled accommodation could be separated from the independent living block and placed on one of the derelict sites close by.
Mark James responded that the two buildings were one project. There will be benefits for the Council in having a second adult disabled unit close to Cherry Tree Court (adjacent to Farrow Court). It was also hoped that an intergenerational relationship could be created by having the two adjacent to each other. Whilst not excluding acquiring land for the purpose this was land that ABC already owns. They accept loss of green space is a contentious issue but having to buy land can add £ millions to project costs. The resident was invited to send details of the land referred to, so Housing could check whether it is in ABC ownership.
A comment was made regarding the short notice for the meeting and asked whether another could be held for those that are away at the time of the meeting.
Bob Shrubb responded that SACF only had about ten days to arrange the meeting and with no income, limited funds and resources there was a limit to what they could achieve. They had wanted to arrange the meeting before the end of the Council’s consultation.
Giles Holloway responded that this was only part of the consultation and the Council would like to reach those that had not been able to participate in the meeting
Concern was raised about dust and noise during the construction period and impact this would have on property prices.
Giles Holloway responded by saying that ABC subscribe to the Considerate Contractor Scheme which sets out how the contractor addresses issues which affect neighbours, such as dust, noise, traffic movement, liaison with neighbours and schools and offered to introduce the resident to existing sites.
The potential for vehicles to park on the inside of the bend on Beaver Lane, as a result of the development, where with vehicles that now park on the outside of the bend could result in reduced visibility and available road width.
Giles said that Kent Highways would be consulted and issues such as this addressed with them.
6 Consultation process
Cllr Charles Suddards asked about the consultation process and how residents affected by the development were contacted.
Mark James said that normally the Council would have held a consultation event in a local community hall, with the information from the PRP Video displayed, giving residents the opportunity to discuss the proposal with the Council and Architects.
With the current restrictions on holding public events they had put the consultation for Oakleigh House online and had distributed leaflets to 200 properties around the site.
As concern had been raised about older people who may not have online access, he suggested a paper questionnaire might be distributed.
Cllr Lynn Suddards asked whether boards could be displayed at a local venue, such as St. Francis Church, for a day allowing residents to visit in their own time. Mark confirmed this could be arranged subject to arrangements with the Church.
Mark said although there had been problems with the Council’s email system at the beginning of the week, he has replied to everybody that had commented on the consultation portal.
When all of the consultation responses had been examined and any amendments made to the proposal, they would post details of comments that had been addressed by changes and the reasons that any comments could not be addressed.
A planning application would then be submitted when residents would have the opportunity to comment formally.
The developer of the proposed East Stour Park development at junction of Romney Marsh Road and north of, Norman Road has appealed the decision by Ashford Borough Council to refuse the application.
The Council’s planning committee voted to refuse the application against officer recommendations following representations from South Ashford Community and a local resident. The Ward Councillor also spoke against granting permission. The reasons given for refusal rested primarily on the site’s location in Ashford’s Green Corridor.
The developer has asked for the appeal to be considered at a hearing rather than by submitted representations, citing a complex mix of considerations and claiming that Ashford Borough Council no longer have a five year housing land supply.
A revised set of plans has been posted on the Ashford Borough Council planning website for the redevelopment of the Homeplus site.
A decision on the planning application was deferred by the Planning Committee when the application was considered on 17th June 2020: for Officers to seek clarification and scheme amendments as necessary from the applicant to deal with Improvements to the overall quality of design across the whole site based on Members’ comments on design issues.
The amendments to the scheme include a reduction by one storey of the Beaver Road block and changes to the roof line, which to an extent addresses comments by South Ashford Community Forum. Materials have been changed across the design and heights have been adjusted in other parts of the proposal.
The changes result in a reduction of seven in the number of flats proposed.
Addressing another comment made by SACF, the amended documents include an Energy Strategy that shows an improvement on Building Regulations maximum carbon emissions of 22% compared with 5% for the previous scheme.
A revised Financial Viability Assessment asserts that the developer would be unable to pay the S106 contributions requested by the Council (valued at £1.3m).