Plumpton Parish Council
Roles of Committees
Communications Working Group
The Parish Council recognises the need to keep Plumpton residents informed about what it is doing on their behalf, and to give them the opportunity to contribute their views. The Communications Working Group was formed in 2009 with a brief to write up monthly reports from Parish Council meetings for the Parish Magazine in a more accessible way than the formal minutes. The Working Group is also responsible for all other means of communicating Parish Council information to residents and for liaison with the media.
Transport and Environment Committee / Footpaths
The Transport and Environment Committee seeks to maintain close working relationships with the operators of public transport services in the area, including Southern Railway and the various bus companies. Issues affecting the rail infrastructure (owned by Network Rail) are also discussed with the Committee. The Committee works closely with East Sussex County Council and Sussex Police on highways matters and is seeking to devise a set of proposals that will ensure that the rural nature of the village is not adversely affected by the requirements of modern motor transport.
The committee ensures the village is kept clear of litter and that the litter bins and dog bins are emptied regularly. Regular checks are made to make sure that hedges do not overhang the pavements. The Chairman also has responsibility for the condition and safety of the allotments and for arranging for overgrown and overhanging trees on property owned by the Parish Council to be cut back or removed.
The Transport and Environment Committee also monitors the footpaths and ensures all footpaths are kept clear and stiles and bridges are maintained in good condition. It does this in liaison with the East Sussex County Council Rights of Way Officer and the Monday Group, a voluntary group that carries out stile and bridge repairs. Members of the public can report broken and unsafe stiles directly to the Rights of Way Officer via the East Sussex County Council website or to the Chairman of the Footpath Committee, who will pass the information on to ESCC. The Chairman of the Footpath Committee has a map with all the footpaths in the area numbered to help identification.
- The Planning Committee includes all but one of the Parish Councillors and currently serves two key functions. These are:
to review all planning applications within the Parish, ranging from a resident wanting to add a car port to their home to small-scale housing developments within the existing planning boundaries. The role of the Committee is to highlight any points of concern to Lewes District Council and identify whether the Council supports the application. Typically, new applications are received every few weeks and review meetings are held regularly, which are open to the public to attend. If necessary, Committee members will make site visits. Planning applications in process can be tracked on the Lewes District Council website at http://www.lewes.gov.uk/planning/778.asp
- to represent the strategic planning and housing needs of the village, including driving forward the affordable housing project and responding to/influencing changes to national planning legislation and Lewes District Council housing and development strategies. The Parish Council is currently working on two major housing initiatives.
- Affordable housing. A recent housing needs survey has identified the need for more affordable housing in the village and the Parish Council has been working with AiRS (Action in Rural Sussex) to identify potential sites. This work is overseen by a separate working party.
- SHLAA. A Strategic Housing and Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) has recently been undertaken on behalf of Lewes District Council to identify land across the district that could be built on to meet local housing needs between now and 2026. Some locations have been identified in Plumpton, but these cannot be developed without formal public consultation and planning approval. This is one of the most interesting, but also one of the most controversial aspects of the Parish Council’s work. Some major decisions will have to be made in the coming months and years and it will certainly be topic of much debate and divided opinions. The Parish Council will keep residents updated via its website and other communication outlets.
Currently, the remit of the planning committee is being addressed through an overarching review of the committee structure.
The Finance Committee prepares the Parish Council’s overall budget annually and makes recommendations for the annual precept, based on the budget. It ensures that the Council’s expenditure is kept within budget, that all payments are correctly made and that all income and expenditure is properly accounted for. It works closely with the Clerk, who is the Responsible Financial Officer of the Council on matters concerning internal control, audit, insurance, loans and the bank account. The work of the Finance Committee and Clerk is governed by Financial Regulations produced by the National Association of Local Councils.
King George V Playing Field / Pavilion and Pavilion Committee
The Sports Pavilion is one of the two buildings owned by the Parish Council and holds charity status (the Village Hall is the other building). It is the Parish Council’s responsibility to maintain the Pavilion in a satisfactory condition and ensure that it meets the needs of its many different users. The costs of maintenance are covered by a percentage of the Parish Council precept, rents from users and fundraising.
The Playing Field Committee comprises Parish Councillors, members of the various sports clubs and the HoneyBees pre-school group. The rents are kept as low as possible, so that users can afford them. This is to ensure children and adults in the Parish have the opportunity to get involved in and play as wide a range of sports as possible.
The Committee has raised over £15,000 in the last five years from grants and fundraising. The funds have been used to extend the sports facilities, carry out building maintenance and install picnic benches. The Committee is considering plans to replace the Pavilion but must, meantime, ensure the current building is maintained to a safe and acceptable standard.
Village Hall Committee
The Village Hall Committee is one of the committees of the Parish Council. As the Village Hall operates as a charity it, in a similar way to the Playing Field, must operate within the requirements of the Charities Act. However, in most respects the operation of the Village Hall Committee is the same as all other Parish Council committees. However, all current parish councillors are appointed trustees of the charity and have legal responsibilities imposed on them as trustees.
The Committee structure is as follows:
- Parish Council Committee – formed of councillors and oversees the strategy and operation of the village hall, with emphasis on marketing, pricing, health and safety and budgetary control
- User Group – formed of village hall users and the Village Hall Manager who is responsible for the day to day running of the facilities and reports to the Parish Council Committee.
Policing and Neighbourhood Watch Working Group
The Parish Council is required to be aware of policing policy in the Parish and surrounding area and to alert the police to any problems locally. The Council maintains dialogue with police officers operating locally and with Sussex Police more widely, and acts as a channel of communication between residents and the police about problem areas. Neighbourhood Watch is an important and valued voluntary scheme that can alert residents to actual and potential dangers and risks. The Parish Council supports the initiative and works closely with the Neighbourhood Watch representative, providing help and support if needed.