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Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Gullands Guide to Flood Risk Homes

Flooding is a growing risk for some British homes and something a number of Kent’s residents have had to deal with this winter. 

Some people will buy a property, especially those in a fantastic location, fully aware that at some time, it may suffer from flooding. However aside from the physical damage caused by floods if a property is at risk of flooding, it may be difficult to:

Obtain a mortgage
Obtain suitable insurance cover, or
Sell the property

Nobody can ever say that a property that has not previously been flooded will never flood and new properties in particular may be tested by the extremes of weather recently experienced. However there are steps that can be taken during the course of a property purchase to forewarn the buyer.

Solicitors are not qualified to give advice on flood risk or interpret technical flood reports but there are a number of checks that can be undertaken by the buyer or on a buyers behalf which will give them a better understanding of the risks.

The standard documentation supplied to a buyer’s solicitor (where the solicitors are adopting what is known as the Conveyancing Protocol) contains a standard enquiry of the seller to ascertain whether any part of the property has ever been flooded and if so, the type of flooding that occurred.

If flooding has previously occurred which is not disclosed by the seller, then a buyer could bring a compensation claim as a result of such an incorrect reply. A buyer’s solicitors will also carry out what is known as an Environment Report. This should disclose whether there is any known flood risk and if so this could result in more detailed enquiries being made.

The buyer would need to identify the level of flood risk, which could be from the buyer’s own personal knowledge of the property and the area, the buyer making further detailed enquiries with their own surveyor and ensuring that a physical inspection or survey has been carried out or a more detailed flood report being obtained which will help the buyer to assess the overall risk.

Alan Williams.
It is important to ensure that the surveyor instructed to act on the buyer’s behalf has local knowledge. The buyer themselves can also make personal enquiries of neighbours, local businesses and consult the Environment Agency Flood Map. This provides a free postcode search for information on flooding from rivers and the sea, but not common flood causes such as surface water and ground water.

A further extremely useful indicator is the buyer making enquiries to establish the terms on which buildings insurance (including flood risk cover) is available. A prohibitive premium or an insurance company potentially declining to insure the property would highlight real cause for concern. As the Standard Conditions of Sale in a Contract for the sale purchase of a residential property oblige the buyer to assume the risk from exchange of Contracts, then the ability to obtain insurance on acceptable terms should be known to a buyer before they become contractually obliged to purchase the property.

If difficulties are experienced in obtaining appropriate buildings insurance and having considered the matter further, a buyer still wishes to proceed, then the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, have produced a guide “Obtaining Flood Insurance in High Risk Areas” for those experiencing difficulty in obtaining flood insurance.

In brief the best advice is to ask as many questions as you can and to do as much research as you can before you commit to buying any home.

Alan Williams is head of the residential conveyancing team at Gullands and can be reached at: Email: or Call: 01622 689700 Website:

Gullands Solicitors

Saturday, 19 July 2014

‘An Englishman in Colombia’ by David Wood

Upchurch resident David Wood has recently had his latest book ‘An Englishman in Colombia’ published as a paperback and kindle version for the UK and US markets by Matador publishing company. The book is about 140 pages long with 16 glossy colour photos.

The idea of having a book published came after he put a shortened version on his own website two years ago and this attracted over 12,000 hits in one year after very little advertising. This will be his first book for the national and international markets. His previous two books about the history of the village of Upchurch, ‘Memories of Upchurch’ and Rainham Cricket Club, ‘150 not out, The Complete History of Rainham Cricket Club’ were aimed at the local market.

Murder, cocaine, street muggings, bomb explosions and aggressive Amazonian Indians combined with exotic beach resorts and colourful characters make the book an interesting and adventurous look at the most dangerous country in Latin America during the late 1980s and 1990s.

Starting as an action packed vacation for Upchurch residents David Wood and Nigel Barling in the Caribbean resort of Santa Marta and a fascinating adventure in the Amazon, the author returns to Colombia for a ten year work experience. He portrays the capital Bogota as a mixture of colourful street people, beggars and a vibrant culture as he meets a vast range of characters. He also outlines the problems experienced in the city caused by the great contrast of wealth and poverty and the influence of the cocaine business with detailed personal accounts of incidents such as street muggings, a bomb explosion in central Bogota and the blowing up of an Avianca aircraft by the drug cartels which resulted in the death of his business partner.

David Wood.

Travelling to different locations in the country, David Wood gives a clear description of life in places like the Sierra Nevada Mountains where he treks and climbs to the Lost City of the Tairona Indians and experiences the culture of the Indian tribes who reside there, the culture they maintain and the problems they face. He also considers the history and culture of cities like Cartagena with its colonial and colourful heritage and San Augustin with its ancient stone figures.

Overall, the book portrays Colombia as a land of great contrasts with beautiful locations and lively culture contrasted with excessive violence, poverty and crime which makes the book an interesting and shocking account of one of Latin America’s most alluring countries.

‘An Englishman in Colombia’ is available online at different sites with the cheapest being  (book shop) for the hard copy and kindle version. It’s also available at www., Ebay, The Telegraph and at various high street bookstores priced £6-99 for the paperback and £3-99 for the kindle version.

David Wood is now working on his first novel which is set against a background of abduction and jihadism in Kashmir and he is being advised by established author Margaret James who has had 16 novels published for the UK market. At present David Wood teaches English as an Overseas Language at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and spends the summer months in Upchurch.

David Wood.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Break In - Upchurch River Valley Golf Course

Hartlip Newington & Upchurch Ward

Message 481 from Neighbourhood Watch

XY/025047/14: Between 14th and 15th of July, 4 industrial-sized Sheds were broken into at Upchurch River Valley Golf Course, Oak Lane, Upchurch.

If you have any information that could help investigators please contact Kent Police on telephone number 101 and quote the Crime Number.

For more information on crime prevention visit:

Kent Police Neighbourhood Watch

FREE Bike Security Marking in Upchurch

PCSO John Cork

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Road Closure - Breach Lane

Breach Lane will be closed from Home Farm to the bend near the Parish Car Park for 3 days from 07:00 on Wednesday 23rd July until Friday 25th.

Description: road closure required

High impact: delays likely

Traffic lights etc: road closure.

Works are required to make good the edge of the carriageway. Remove vegetation and put in marker posts. 1 15m x 1m x 0.5m.

Fill eroded edge of carriageway (coned off) with planings and compact.

Patch carriageway 15m x 1m x 100mm to bring up the level on the bend.

Clear permit status: granted

Works ref: GE4000ENT000000046420139

Data source: Kent County Council

Upchurch Matters

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

PFHS Summer Fayre - A Thank You

Thank you to all who came to our Summer Fayre on Sunday 6th July to support the children and have some fun.

The Fayre this year was opened by Josh Hare of Gillingham FC with guest appearances from AJ’s Academy of Dance and Drama and Medway Schools’ Wind Band.

Despite the rain we raised over £2,000 for the children of Holywell Primary School, which is a fantastic result.


Clare Evans

With thanks to Kim Taylor for the photos

Monday, 14 July 2014

Upchurch Parish Council Report - August 2014

The Parish Council met on Thursday 5th July at the Village Hall where 5 Councillors were present and 8 members of the public.

Public TimeUpchurch Active Retirement Association (UpARA) – The secretary asked the Council if they had any land available in the Parish that they could use to build a Petanque Court. The Council will consider this. Beckenham Park Residents Association –The resident commented that Otterham Quay Lane was becoming unsightly and dangerous. The Clerk will log a request with Swale BC to litter pick this area and also inform Highways that cuttings from conifers had been left on the pavement. Village FeteA resident commented that this was a fantastic day and would like to thank those who organised it. Cllr Tucker explained that a small committee had organised the event, some of which were members of the Parish Council. It was agreed that the day was very enjoyable and as good as the fetes that were held years ago.

Correspondence Air ambulance – A request for a grant of £250 to support their lifesaving work in the community was considered by members. It was decided not to support this. St Johns College Cambridge – The Clerk reported that a new Property Managing Agent had been appointed to act on the Diocese behalf. The new agent is Savills based in Bishops Stortford replacing George Webb Finn.

Planning - Public Access/e-consultation portal – It was noted that planning applications could be accessed via:

Permissions and refusalsSW/14/0267 Horsham Lane Garage– Cllr Tucker reported that this planning application had been approved with many pre-development conditions. An update received from Cllr Lewin explained that he had substituted, sat, spoke and voted in favour at the Committee meeting at Swale which approved this application. Officers reported, prior to the decision being made, that KCC Highways had commented that the development satisfied the KCC parking standards in-site and that the path along part of the frontage of the development should be widened.

Other planning mattersHorsham Car Sales – Cllr Lewin had advised that Officers at Swale BC were currently pursuing three matters, the signage, the storage of cars at the front of the site and the use of articulated car transporters to take and bring cars to the site. Gypsy & Travellers Allocations consultation – Cllr Lewin had explained that the responses to this consultation earlier in the year were being considered at a Local Development Framework Panel Committee. He thanked the Council for responding to the consultation and much of the responses had been taken into account in policy recommendations.

Finance Budget report The Clerk reported that meeting expenses would be higher than amount budgeted for as the cost to hire the Village Hall was £7 more for each meeting. The Photocopier had been returned to Konica Minolta.

Administration - Centenary Birthday CardIt was reported that a resident would be 100 years old on 16th July 2014. It was agreed that the Parish Council would send her a birthday card. Village Cleaner - It was explained that The Paddock was being litter picked and bins emptied on a regular basis by Cllr Rose, Cllr Tucker and Cllr Lewin. The Recreation Ground was being looked after by Cllr Denny and Cllr Tucker. Cllr Arnold had consulted Highways about the possibility of a Village Caretaking scheme but it would be several months before this scheme was up and running. Therefore, it was agreed to advertise for a short term temporary Village Caretaker. This would be a self-employed role to cover the summer months. A maximum of 3 hours per week, would be offered, at a cost of around £15-£20 per week. A closing date of 16th July 2014 would allow the GPC to consider any applications received.

Allotments and Recreation GroundVacant plots at Allotments The Clerk reported that one full plot remained vacant but there were several names on the waiting list. Therefore it was hoped to reallocate this plot shortly. Recreation Ground gateIt was reported that Cllr Masson had readjusted the gate and members thanked him for his efforts.

Paddock Draft plans submitted by residentsA copy of this report had been circulated. It was commented that the plans for The Paddock Project had been presented very well and a working group was now needed to follow this up. Village FeteCllr Tucker commented that it was an excellent day and thanked all those who were involved in making it a success. All agreed. She explained that the committee who organised the fete would evaluate the day and have arranged for a survey to be carried out via Upchurch Matters. It was hoped to find out what went well, what things people enjoyed or what they would like to see at the next fete etc. It was reported that the stall holders raised a lot of money for their village organisation or group and it was hoped to repeat this event again.

Burial Ground and ChurchyardReview the fee renewal of memorial plaque The Clerk reported that the renewal fee at present was £10 for a period of ten years. This was considerably lower than other cemeteries, for example, Maidstone Borough Council charged £44.50 for one year’s dedication. It was therefore agreed to increase the renewal fee to £75 for a period of ten years. Adopt a graveIt was explained that several residents had chosen a grave to adopt and overgrown vegetation had already been cleared from some graves in the Churchyard and middle Burial Ground. However, an issue had arisen with the disposal of the vegetation that had been cleared from the graves. It was hoped that a solution to this issue could be found.

EnvironmentBest Kept Garden Competition 2014Members were reminded that judging would take place on or around 21st July. Flats located in Forge LaneCllr New raised concerns regarding the state of the car park and grass verges. The Clerk will contact the owner of the flats to request this area is tidied up.

Highways - Speed watchIt was reported that this would be taking place during the month of July at various locations in the village. PCSO Cork is planning to attend a session. Street light in Marstan Close It was reported that Highways were planning to charge the Council £220 for costs incurred from making this light safe. Cllr Baldock indicated that he would follow this up with Highways on the Council’s behalf. Parking problems at village centreMembers were advised that the Council had forwarded contact details for Maidstone Borough Council to the Co-Op Risk Manager in order for them to apply for a loading bay. Canterbury LaneIt was explained that Cllr Lewin had reported that fly tipping had taken place on the evening of Monday 30th June in the stretch from Seymour Road to Otterham Quay Lane. Swale BC Enforcement Officers viewed the fly tipping for evidence to see if a prosecution could be made, but they found none and there were no witnesses. The material required the road to be closed to traffic and it was now for KCC to clear the highway. The report reference was 17336204.

Matters arising - Barbara Webb Memorial – A ceremony will be held on Friday 8th August 2014 at 10.30am in the Village Hall grounds to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Barbara Webb, Upchurch Carnival Queen 1964 who died 8th August while carrying out her duties. During the ceremony, a Rowan Tree will be planted and it is hoped as many of Barbara’s family and friends can attend.

Next meetings – 4th September and 2nd October. Please note that the meetings are held at Upchurch Village Hall and start at 7:30pm.

Claire Attaway, Parish Clerk, 33 Church Farm Road.
Tel: 01634 363906 (Mon - Thurs 9am to midday)