This week’s Council of the Week has been selected for its strong leadership, dynamism and imaginative approach to community-based initiatives.
Sevenoaks Town Council is one of Kent’s larger councils and one which has had to respond to increased social demands over the last decade. The council has been courageous in tackling the issues facing it and NALC would like to commend Sevenoaks for the creation and delivery of an exciting and demanding visionary policy.
The council has strong officer leadership and has invested in its infrastructure and staff to ensure strong foundations. It has a powerful and professional ethos, reflected in its investment in learning and development and the activity levels of the council.
As a result, the council has a distinct identity – despite being physically close to its principal authority - and strong communication ensures that its electors are aware of its achievements.
Sevenoaks has an excellent website and newsletter and a focus on personal contact with its electors. It celebrates its achievements and is strong in all areas on communicating its position and role, all of which make for a council that residents can look to, to protect and raise the quality of life in the town.
The council has delivered numerous projects which have a strong social and economic impact, including establishing a job club to tackle unemployment; a youth café; supporting the town partnership Business Show; saving and reinvigorating the Stag Theatre as a local Community arts venue and an imaginative use of GPC to create a heritage bus service. This is a Local council that has a strong vision for its area based on investing in small scale but realistic projects that strengthen and reinvigorate the community and provide economic momentum for improvement. The result is a joined up approach that is sustainable and embedded in the community: a local council that celebrates its local wealth of heritage and buildings but has a genuine programme of how this can be developed and safeguarded for the future.
It is also significant that Sevenoaks Town Council have provided area leadership at the Area Committee level and this bodes well as local councils have to think about issues like clustering. There is no doubt that the council is well placed to take on a wider role and its members and officers have an excellent record of sharing their knowledge and support to not just the area but the whole of Kent via the KALC. This is a council that has a strong sense of place; but also where it perceives its wider role beyond its borders: a theme well supported with its dynamic approach that reaches out.
Sevenoaks Town Council has achieved a high profile by consulting and successfully delivering projects and services with its electors.
The context of change and growth has been accepted as a challenge and consequently the council has grown and continues to look to the future as it contemplates a move to a new and improved location soon.
NALC and the KALC would therefore like to congratulate Sevenoaks, not only on its achievements, but on the way it has engaged with the challenges of the last decade and continues to strive towards meeting new expectations.
Clive Powell, Local Councils Adviser to the Kent Association of Local Councils sums it up well: “The Council understands the potential of Localism. This is a Council that is aware of its past, confident in its future and well-tuned to seeing itself in a wider European context and perceives opportunities at all points for itself and the wider community it serves.”