We would like to give Maplestead Parish Council the top spot this week, in recognition of its hard work and achievements, with limited budgets and resources.
Great Maplestead is a small parish of 360 residents in the north of Essex on the border with Suffolk. It is one of seven councils in Essex to be awarded Foundation Award of our new Local Council Award Scheme, meeting all of the standards set out by the scheme and delivering effective services to local residents.
Having evidenced the council’s progressive attitude and commitment to professional development for both Councillors and the Clerk, the Essex Association of Local Councils invited Great Maplestead to participate in the pilot for the scheme in late 2014.
The council can also be commended for its communications and the high quality of its website, which was one of the best we have viewed for the Foundation Award, with extensive information and clear navigation.
In recent years the council has worked hard to modernise and bring itself into the digital age, with a big emphasis on the website and use of email for communicating with parishioners. Recognising though that this does not suit all, the council also continues to communicate via parish newsletters and notice-boards.
We are pleased to see that Maplestead’s communication and relationships with both district and county councils has improved, which we understand has led to a better understanding between the parish and the various tiers of local government.
Members of the current parish council work hard on behalf of the parish and achievements this year include:
Several highway improvements, such as the kerbing of two village triangles, to avoid erosion; and a new and modified drainage system close to the village primary school, following years of minor flooding on the highway
The set up a Grant Funding Working Party to explore opportunities to undertake new projects for the parish
Grant funding obtained for the proposed purchase of a container to provide much needed storage for the parish
Leading a task force of parish volunteers to litter pick, strim and prune verges and footpaths and make minor repairs to benches, footbridges and village signs
The council are also currently scoping the possibility of utilising S106 monies for new safety fencing to be installed around the children’s play area on the village playing field.
Cllr. Peter Schwier, who has been fundamental in the improvements to the website, said: “Whilst council budgets continue to be tight, there is still much we can achieve on behalf of the parish with a little creative thinking and of course hard work. Great Maplestead is a fine example of a small rural parish, on limited resources achieving high.”
We commend this hard work and we are pleased to see Great Maplestead and the Local Councils of Essex leading the way for others working towards the NALC Foundation Award.