In February 2012 Eastergate Parish held its first contested Parish Council elections in many years. At the first meeting in March I was honoured to be appointed chairman and I have been re‐elected for a second term. Thank you for your confidence in me.
It is important that I use this address to thank all those who give time and dedication to our community. In particular I’d like to thank the Parish Council Members, all volunteers:
- John Kilroy – Deputy Chair
- Heather Kilroy
- Miss Philippa Hind
- Mr Stephen White
- Mr David Phillips – Chair Barnham Parish Council
- Miss Jasmine Sparrow
- Mr Rob Sparrow
- Mr Garry Sleet – Our valued Clerk
In addition I want to thank the following for their support to our parish
- County Cllr Derek Whittington
- District Cllr Jean Goad
- District Cllr John Charles
- District Cllr Dougal MacAonachie
- PCSO Neil Billingham and colleagues
Thank you to the Guides who again have delivered the joint Barnham and Eastergate Community newsletter.
In addition I want to thank, and in future better recognise, the many volunteers too numerous to mention, who I know underpin the very fabric of our community running events, clubs, societies and supporting those in need. This is the travesty of having to fight an ill‐conceived Local Plan. We are volunteers with limited resources. We want to be focussed on building the fabric of our community and not defending it.
We’ve been focussed, if not distracted, this year on the emerging Local Plan and Neighbourhood planning. More of this later. But there are many other topics that we have addressed:‐
- Car parking in Barnham village
- Improving our communications (web‐site – Thank you to Maureen Chaffe) and two community newsletters
- Pot‐holes roads and pavements …
- A new £1.5m community centre in Barnham
- Further improvements to our cycle‐ways
- A village traders group
- Engagement with our local schools
Priorities for the coming year
Aldingbourne, Barnham, Eastergate and Walberton Parish Councils (the Cluster) have, with the valued support of Arun District Council, been awarded a grant under the government’s Front Runner Scheme to develop Neighbourhood Plans.
Eastergate and Barnham Parish Councils – A joint plan
Parish councils can now use new neighbourhood planning powers to establish general planning policies for the development and use of land in a neighbourhood and as such they are really important.
There is a detailed process, too long to describe here, but some key features of the process are:‐
- Community consultation – May 2012 questionnaire to all households
- Preparation of the draft neighbourhood plan followed by further community consultation. This will be largely done by concerned/interested volunteers from within the community with guidance, leadership and advice from parish councillors and in some areas from professional consultants .
- An independent qualified person then checks that a neighbourhood development plan meets key conditions before it is voted on in a local referendum. This is to make sure that referendums only take place when proposals are workable and of a decent quality. Conditions to be met include:‐
- They must have regard to national planning policy and be legally compliant
- They must be in general conformity with strategic policies in the District Council development plan. Arun District Council will continue to produce development plans that will set the strategic context within which the neighbourhood development plans will sit
- Proposed neighbourhood development plans need to gain the approval of a majority of voters of the neighbourhood to come into force. If proposals pass the referendum, the local planning authority (Arun District Council) is under a legal duty to bring them into force. We are targeting May‐14 for our referendum.
This is a priority for the coming year. Volunteers please for a focus group
Working in Partnership
There are three partnerships that Eastergate Parish Council invest in:‐
During the February 11 Eastergate Parish Council election, a majority of elected councillors campaigned for a review of the parish boundaries, to best represent the residents of Barnham, Eastergate & Fontwell. For example, Barnham is one village, one community but represented by two Parish Councils. This agenda will, be pursued but it is a lengthy process. We are therefore working with adjoining parishes on projects (e.g. the Neighbourhood Plan) and common issues (e.g. drainage capacity in the villages and the constant stream of major planning applications for large housing developments) .
To achieve this we are holding regular joint meetings with our neighbouring parishes, and we will combine resources, skills and funds on key projects. There are now in addition a number of experienced councillors who sit on both Barnham and Eastergate Parish Councils
There are too few resources, volunteer time and money for Parishes to operate in isolation within historic boundaries that no longer reflect the communities and settlements that they once represented. I hope that everyone will embrace this approach which is in addition to preserving the important historic and cultural identities of our villages.
Local Groups and Volunteer Organisations
There are many people who give time and skills in many different ways for the benefit of our community. Such examples of local groups and volunteering include the Barnham Village Drainage Group, Village Friends, Youth and Sports Groups, BLADE, local schools, Flood Planning and the Emergency Team, Neighbourhood Watch, VAG. As a Parish Council we will aim to facilitate, help and recognise these efforts, as well as encouraging participation in community events.
Influencing the Broader Agenda
There are many meetings, events and consultations at the higher levels of local government where we can promote what is important to the Parish and influence policy that has an effect on our community. This can be time consuming and the workload needs to be spread out. To ensure consistency of approach we need to consult on, and invest in our policies such as the Neighbourhood Plan. This strategy is, in my experience, a more productive strategy than simply complaining about new policy and planning applications once they are well advanced and heavily invested in. An example meeting that we regularly attend is the Joint Downland Area Committee (JDAC).
- 29th May – Plan goes to Full Council
- It will, in all likelihood:‐
- Contain a garden City of 2,000 houses
- A new A29
- Destruction of the gap between Barnham and Eastergate
- We hope it will be amended to remove these elements in sub‐committee
- If not passed we will need our Neighbourhood plan to deal with the threat of speculative developers
- No mention of the brownfield land at Ford which, we understand, is being promoted by Ford PC for development
- We agree to allow the villages to grow