Hawkhurst Parish Council

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Chairman’s Letter March 2023

Clare Escombe


I would like to draw your attention to the Feedback Statement produced by the NDP Steering Group following the Visioning Event on 14th January. I do not think it will come as any surprise to learn that the top three issues identified on the day were: congestion at the crossroads, healthcare facilities and the loss of

agricultural landscape and woodland. The Feedback Statement is available on the NDP Hawkhurst Facebook page, where you will find the rest of the top 10 issues.

In light of this, I am delighted to let you know that The Woodland Trust has recently bought 38 hectares (94 acres) of arable farmland and ancient woodland shaws off Stream Lane. I was fortunate to be invited to a Stakeholder day at the start of March, which proved extremely interesting.

The Woodland Trust intends to create a new woodland and woody landscape. This year, the focus will be on carrying out baseline surveys for the flora and fauna already present on the site, in addition to designing a tree planting scheme in keeping with the site’s position in the High Weald AONB.

Looking ahead, the Parish Council has a small working group that is very busy planning events for the Coronation weekend. Keep an eye out for more information over the coming weeks.

The Annual Parish Assembly will also take place in May. We still need to firm up the final arrangements, but details will be available on our website and noticeboards shortly.

Wishing you all a Happy Easter,

Clare Escombe
Chairman, Hawkhurst Parish Council

Previous Chairman’s letters …

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 Full Council meets once a month. The Council also has a Strategy, Administration and Policy Committee, Facilities and Services Committee and Planning Committee.

The public assets, Hawkhurst Parish Council is responsible for include: 

– Hensil
– Ockley

Copt Hall community centre 

King George V Playing Field
– Sports Pavilion & Community Centre
– Muti-use Games Area
– Children’s Playground
– Pitches

The Moor

Hawkhurst Cemetery

– 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.

Annual Parish Meeting presentation 2022

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.