29/04/2019 - RSN South East Regional Seminar & Meeting

Minutes of the RSN South East Regional Seminar & Meeting held at Sevenoaks District Council,  29 April 2019
Thank you to Sevenoaks District Council for kindly hosting this event

To download a copy of these minutes click here



Cllr Cameron Clark, Chair

Sevenoaks District Council

Cllr Patricia Bosley, Chairman of the Council

Sevenoaks District Council

Cllr Peter Fleming OBE, Leader of the Council

Sevenoaks District Council

David Inman, Corporate Director


Tim Tempest, South East Regional Advisor for Kent

Pub is the Hub

Willow Cobby, Neighbourhood Connector

Guildford Borough Council

Catherine Beaumont, Deputy Head of Environmental Health

Rother & Wealden Environmental Health Service

Will Tompsett, Policy Officer

Wealden District Council

Amy Fearn – Housing Development Officer

Rother District Council

Paula Carey, Area Manager England South

Parkinson’s UK

Sarah Lewis, Housing Register & Development Manager

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

Emily Haswell, Economic Development Officer

Sevenoaks District Council

Ivan Annibal

Rose Regeneration

Jessica Sellick

Rose Regeneration

Cllr Christopher Woodley

Kent ALC

Will Train

Ashford Borough Council

Terry Martin

Kent ALC

Keith Harrison, Chief Executive

Rural Community Council – Kent & Medway

Emma Sutton, Policy & Research Officer

Age UK

Kathryn Harrison, Head of Housing Services

English Rural Housing Association


Speaker and Attendee

Kerry Potter

UK Power Networks

Hayley Brooks

Sevenoaks District Council

Rachel Ryan-Crisp

Southern Water

Simon Kitchen

Bipolar UK


PART 1 OF MEETING: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm hrs

  1. Welcome from the Chairman of Sevenoaks District Council, Councillor Patricia Bosley.

The Chair formally thanked everyone for attending today’s seminar and meeting.

The Rural Services Network was now the only organisation in England seeking to pull together the many rural areas which are spun across England so that they can present a national rural argument on behalf of the people living and working in these communities about their services and their issues.

She observed that rural areas have their fair share of problems and these can be very specific to them.  People shouldn’t fool themselves that because they are attractive areas, all must be well.  These specific rural problems deserve some focus and the Network seeks to do that.

She was pleased to say that this is the first of the RSN Seminars that has been held in the South East and Sevenoaks were delighted to host it.

The very remoteness that so many others value, can for others gradually become a real burden. She observed that if you were vulnerable in a rural area you could be very vulnerable indeed in a rural one?

She very much hoped the event would cast some light on the problems and consider how by working together it may be possible to assist.

She thanked people for attending.

  1. Introductory Remarks from Councillor Peter Fleming OBE, Leader of Sevenoaks District Council

The Leader welcomed the opportunity Sevenoaks had been given to attend the event. They had their fair share of rural areas across the Council area and were aware of the problems people faced.

He personally was involved with the District Council Network who likewise were aware and were concerned that rural problems lacked focus nationally.

He very much hoped the event would be a successful one and that it would bring about much needed scrutiny on this important topic and the exchange of best practice.

  1. Introduction from David Inman, Corporate Director, RSN

David set out what ground the Network sought to cover and how they wished to work at local authority, community and parliamentary level. It was vital that the problems of rural areas were not simply mainstreamed with the assumption that national viewpoints would equally apply to rural areas. That was not always the case and rural areas would always lose out unless they achieved specific focus and attention. While the problems in inner cities were very much understood, England was almost 80% rural with 20% of its population living there. Its problems were specific and they needed special attention. He referred to the vulnerability problem with individuals in rural areas as the average age of the population was increasing and access to facilities becoming more difficult for many.  

Vulnerability – Presentation One

Kerry Potter, UK Power Networks (download the presentation here)

Kerry is the Customer Vulnerability Officer for the Electricity Distributer, UK Power Networks holding the franchise for much of South East of England.  She is a very experienced officer who is a central player in the Electricity Industry and their policies with people who are regarded, either permanently or temporary to be in a vulnerable situation. Kerry detailed now working with Ofcom a Priority Services Register system had been developed and how the industry had used this to give appropriate assistance to vulnerable customers.

Vulnerability Presentation Two

Hayley Brooks, Sevenoaks District Council, Head of Housing and Health (download the presentation here)

The Department that Hayley headed up had sought to devise policies and procedures that sought to give special consideration to those who were vulnerable or who had special difficulties. The authority had gained a reputation in the South East for work in this area.

Vulnerability Presentation Three

Rachel Ryan-Crisp, Southern Water PLC, Affordability and Vulnerability Lead (download the presentation here)

The company had been giving special recent consideration to their customer service work and had introduced many recent new systems. Whilst Water Companies’ Priority Service Registers were not currently as extensive as those of Power Companies, Ofwat was encouraging Water Companies to be more pro-active in this work. Rachel detailed initiatives being undertaken including the introduction of a new Customer Inclusion Panel on which rural organisations were represented.

  1. Q&A of morning speakers

Particular questioning took place about what would constitute vulnerable customers, what special measures may be considered and how people were made aware of Priority Registration and how they could register

PART 2 OF MEETING: 1.30 pm – Finish

  1. Afternoon presentation (download the presentation here)

Learning from the Rural Services Partnership - Simon Kitchen, Bipolar UK

Simon detailed how Bipolar diagnosis took place and how increasingly the number of people being diagnosed was increasing. This was particularly true in rural areas where isolation could be a key factor.

  1. Roundtable Networking Session

Learning from others about Rural Vulnerability in the South East.

A very full discussion took place. It was felt that far more emphasis needed to be given to the priority registration system, which it was felt could and should be used far more extensively both across the regulated industries. It was also felt it hadrelevance in the public sector.

  1. Summing up of afternoon session - Cllr Cameron Clark, Sevenoaks District Council (Cllr Clark’s remarks are linked here)

  2. Meeting Apologies

The following were received:


Cllr Mary Lewis

Surrey County Council

Councillor Rupert Simmons

East Sussex County Council

Jane Lang, Housing Services Manager

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

Cllr Lawrie Stratford

Oxfordshire County Council

Cllr Anne Scicluna

Chichester District Council

Cllr Stephen Catlin

Lewes District Council

Cllr Ted Fenton

West Oxfordshire District Council

Cllr Mrs Sally-Ann Hart

Rother District Council

Cllr Sue Coleman

Sevenoaks District Council

Andrew Potter, Chief Executive

Hastoe Housing Association

Caroline Shaw

Norfolk & Waveney STP

Chris Stanton, Rural Economy Officer

Guildford Borough Council

Andy Haime, Operations Manager

Lincolnshire Rural Housing Ltd

Cllr Marge Harvey

Hampshire County Council

Cllr Mark Harris

Wycombe District Council

Cllr Jonathan Glen

Hampshire County Council

Cllr Kathryn Field

Rother District Council

Rupert Clubb, Director Community, Economy & Transport

East Sussex County Council

Jane Townsend, Principal

Easton and Otley College

Cllr Liz Leffman

West Oxfordshire District Council

Cllr Tony Ganly

Rother District Council

Cllr Carol Purnell

West Sussex County Council

Cllr David Turner

South Oxfordshire District Council

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Chichester District Council

Cllr Brenda Smith

West Sussex County Council

Maureen Taylor

Northumbria Healthcare

Cllr Yvonne Constance

Oxfordshire County Council

Sam Jones

Hampshire County Council

Cllr Sally-Ann Hart

Rother District Council

Alison Spring - Programme Office and Policy Manager, Community and Economy

Rother District Council

Cllr Sarah Barker, Chairman

Kent Association of Local Councils

Cllr Bill Withers

Hampshire County Council

Cllr Paul Peacock

Folkestone & Hythe District Council

Cllr Jenny Hollingsbee

Folkestone & Hythe District Council

Cllr Nikki Nelson-Smith

Guildford Borough Council

Cllr Dr James Walsh

West Sussex County Council

Cllr Mrs Morwen Millson

West Sussex County Council


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