- The Copt Hall now has a new kitchen, heating and the car park has been cleared.
- The showers at the changing rooms in the KGV Pavilion now benefit from a new hot water system.
Chairman’s Letter November 2022
I am delighted to inform you that Anita Maxwell has been appointed as our new Parish Clerk. Anita has worked for HPC for several years, and I am hugely grateful that she took on the Acting Clerk role this summer. She has steered us through a very busy period, which has included major improvements to the Copt Hall and KGV pavilion. Both Anita and Ailsa have been working incredibly hard to ensure that everyone gets a warm welcome when they contact the Parish Council, so doubtless, you will join me in congratulating Anita on her well-deserved promotion.
Earlier this month, the Parish Council was honoured to participate in the Remembrance Day Parade. It was certainly an improvement on marshalling the road closures last year! Thank you so much to all the organisers and participants who ensured the parade was such a great success.
In last month’s newsletter, I mentioned that HPC would decide on the next steps for the proposed Community Centre project at our November meeting. We are all too aware that a project of this size will have significant cost implications for residents. Therefore, we will undertake a detailed consultation, ensuring that residents have a full understanding of the project costs, so that we can determine whether or not Hawkhurst residents want the Parish Council to proceed with the project.
This month, the Planning Inspector published his initial findings on TWBC’s Local Plan. As far as
Hawkhurst is concerned, the most significant item is that the Inspector has said that the Medical
Centre site behind Birchfield Grove needs to be deleted from the plan. The Inspector recognises that there is a need for new medical facilities in Hawkhurst and has advised TWBC that they will need to identify an alternative location.
The Inspector also expressed concerns over the proposal to create a new garden village at Tudeley. Whilst he has not told TWBC that they need to delete this allocation, it is an option he has suggested that TWBC consider. If TWBC does opt to remove this allocation, this would leave a shortfall of over 2000 in the housing numbers for the Borough.
The uncertainty around the Local Plan makes Hawkhurst’s Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) all the more important. As you may know, we are currently reviewing this, and we have a Visioning Day planned for Saturday 14th January at Hawkhurst Primary School. We will use the information from this event to help us identify the key themes for the updated NDP. Please do pop in and share your views any time between 10:00am and 2:30pm.
All the best,
Chairman, Hawkhurst Parish Council
About Hawkhurst Parish Council
Hawkhurst Parish Council aims to listen to residents and play a vital part in representing the interests of the communities we serve and improving the quality of life in the parish. Whilst we are the lowest tier of local government, Parliament has granted Parish Councils the power to spend money on a variety of services and we have wide powers to choose what action to take on behalf of the community.
The Parish Council does not receive general government grants. The Council has the authority to raise money through a precept which is added to Council Tax Bills, and to make charges for services such as hall hire and burials. The Council is must not have a deficit and is not permitted to borrow for any purpose unless it is supported in a local referendum.
Hawkhurst Parish Council has 13 councillors representing around 5,000 residents. Elections are held every four years. The Parish Council directly employs a clerk, finance officer and village warden. The council is based in The Office at the Moor, Hawkhurst, Kent TN18 4NT and is open to visitors 9.30 to 12.30 Monday to Friday.
The public assets, Hawkhurst Parish Council is responsible for include:
Copt Hall community centre
King George V Playing Field
– Sports Pavilion & Community Centre
– Muti-use Games Area
– Children’s Playground
– Playing Fields
– Children’s Playground
Streetlights (but not those next to major roads which are Kent County Council)
The Office at the Moor – the Parish office
Victoria Hall – currently leased to the Kino Cinema and cafe
Village centre planters and hanging baskets
War memorial at the Highgate cross roads
Fowlers Wood – a field saved from development, now a rewilded wood with a public right of way through it.
Higher tiers of local government covering Hawkhurst are: Tunbridge Wells Borough Council; and, Kent County Council. They have legal duties to deliver services such as refuse collection, education, housing, planning, transport, environmental health and social services.
Role of Parish Councillors
Hawkhurst Parish Council has 13 Parish Councillors. Parish Councillors are elected representatives, not employees, and serve for a 4-year term, unless co-opted or elected in a bye-election when they serve until the next election. Anyone who lives or works in the parish, is a British citizen and has attained the age of 18 is eligible to become a Parish Councillor. (A full list of legal requirements is available from the clerk.)
The Parish Council needs a wide range of skills and to work as a team. Councillors come from different backgrounds and possess different skills, attitudes and interests. They should be well-informed about local views and be able to listen and question constructively in order to improve the quality of life in the parish.
As part of the Parish Council, councillors are responsible for managing and maintaining council facilities and services. Councillors decide on the budget and how much to raise through local taxation and charges for services such as hall hire or burials.
Individual Parish Councillors cannot make decisions on behalf of the Council, but they can actively lead and engage with local projects. Working to bring about improvements, lobbying other service providers and working in partnership with other Parishes, local authorities and agencies.
Occasionally there will be difficult decisions. These need to be approached and debated in an open, honest and reasoned way. Councillors are required to comply with the Code of Member Conduct, and at all times act in an ethical way and declare an interest when necessary.
Councillors also influence and shape the long-term development for the Parish, and as part of the planning process, commenting on planning applications in the Parish and creating a Neighbourhood Development Plan.