What does Ellisfield’s Parish Council do?
Ellisfield Parish Council has been described as having “champagne tastes on a beer income” and it must be said that it has become quite adept at augmenting its precept income by spending other organisations’ money (or persuading them to spend it themselves!) on projects for the benefit of the village.
Partnership working with the principal councils (mainly the District) and other providers is a prominent feature and over the past ten to fifteen years has resulted in the following achievements.
- The provision of seven units of social housing (Farrier’s Field in Green Lane).
- The clearance of the majority of overhead electrical and telephone wires from the Lower Common. General landscaping was accomplished at the same time.
- The provision of two five-a-side goalposts and a children’s swing, also on Lower Common.
- The transfer of ownership of a County Council Highways road rubbish tip to the parish and subsequent creation of a new area of public amenity land at the junction of Green Lane and the Axford Road. It is now known as The Gravel Pits.
- The provision of four noticeboards: the two-pane noticeboard at Lower Common has a village map and, although being the “official” board of the Parish Council, has a pane for general notices; there are two single-pane boards for general use (although Council notices are also displayed on them) which are located at the top and bottom of Green Lane; the fourth is a two-pane oak noticeboard at the junction of College Lane and Bell Lane.
- The dredging and partial landscaping of a neglected pond.
- Negotiation with the District and County Councils to provide improved flood defences, particularly in relation to an area of housing below the road level.
- Persuading Hampshire County Council’s Highways Department to install a 30 mile per hour speed limit on the Axford Road and the lower parts of College Lane and Green Lane.
- The clearing and fencing of the Upper Allotments and helping with the subsequent formation of the Ellisfield Allotment Holders Association.
- Maintenance of the Ellisfield Parish Council website.
Much of the Parish Councils work is as an enabler rather than a provider
As an example, the Village Memorial Hall is managed by an independent organisation but the Parish Council has used its power to contribute quite large sums towards improvements.
Grants have also been made to other village organisations, either to assist them to carry out a particular project or as a start-up grant.
A number of Parish Council initiatives are passed on to independent volunteers to organise and carry out, for example:
- The production of a Village Design Statement. This document has been adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance by Basingstoke Borough Council, the local planning authority.
- The creation of a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme to cover the entire village.
- The production of one of the first Village Appraisals.
- A Tree Survey, which resulted in the planting of new trees in various locations.
- Maintenance and improvement of the village’s Rights of Way. The “Parish Paths Partnership” was originally a joint working agreement between the Parish Council and the County Council, with volunteers doing the actual work. During that time several stiles were replaced with kissing gates. The volunteers (the Ellisfield Volunteer Group) now work directly with the County Council and this system functions so well that the Parish Council hasn’t had a complaint about the state of the footpaths for many years.
It’s not all excitement and glamour! We also:
- Comment upon applications for Planning Consent within the village boundary. The Parish Council is a statutory consultee, receives copies of all plans from the District Council but has no actual power to refuse or consent to an application. It acts as a voice of the village, rather than for any individual (whether that individual is applying for consent or objecting to it being given). How the application will affect the village is the prime concern.
- Administer and maintain The Parish Burial Ground at St. Martin’s Church, Church Lane.
- Administer and maintain two areas of allotment land (the Upper and Lower Allotments) and the two areas of parish amenity land (Lower Common and The Gravel Pits).
- Maintain two bus shelters (at the top and bottom of Green Lane).
- Monitor the state of the roads, signposts and street signs and attempt, with varying success, to persuade other authorities (mainly Hampshire County Council) to keep these up to standard.
- Maintain, by agreement with the County Council, the vintage sign-post at the junction of Axford Road and College Lane.
- Administer, as agents of the District Council, regular Litter Collection and disposal.
- Publish a simple format newsletter, produced whenever necessary. We are fortunate in that, with so few dwellings (119 houses), we are easily able to communicate directly with our electorate and can distribute newsletters and questionnaires very soon after they are produced.
- Hold a Forum, early in each meeting for residents’ views at each parish council meeting. This, together with door-to-door surveys and questionnaires, provides a valuable dialogue with our electorate.
- Keep on top of the paperwork, including an incredible number of consultations from every conceivable organisation; a paper mountain which threatens to engulf all councils, whether principal or local.