Council of the Week: Ampthill Town Council
This week’s Council of the Week is the first to have been awarded Quality Gold status in the Local Council Award Scheme and is clearly a council that is setting the bar high for others to follow.
Amptill Town Council (formerly Ampthill Urban District Council) has been a Successor Town Council since April 1974, in line with the Local Government Act 1972. Ampthill is a Georgian Market Town situated in Mid Bedfordshire, with a population of approximately 7,000 and 3,150 households.
There are two particular projects through which the council has recently demonstrated best practice, but it can also be praised and acknowledged for the way it engages with its community, embracing modern social media as well as traditional means of communication and promotes democracy by providing information about standing as a councillor and about the forthcoming elections.
The Town Council worked with the Parkside Hall Trustees to replace a community building where the fabric had become tired and it was an uphill battle to maintain, with a facility fit for purpose, affordable and sustainable. The Town Council took the lead on the project and the has since been buzzing with activity; from comedy nights, choirs, children’s groups, sporting and keep fit groups to celebratory events such as weddings, birthdays, christenings, anniversaries, a literary festival and food and drink fair, Parkside Hall has it all and something for everyone to get involved in.
Aside from funding, initiating and jointly managing the renovation project, perhaps what is more innovative, is the fact that Ampthill Town Council has actually passed the running of the Hall on to a highly committed group of volunteers who are Trustees of the Parkside Charity and Management Committee members.
Another major project that we’d like to applaud the council on, is the restoration of Ampthill Park, for which the council has been granted £606,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund. The project aims to further investigate, restore and enhance the Park’s landscape, historic and heritage features, whilst ensuring it meets the needs of its current and future visitors.
Alongside the restoration of the surviving ‘Capability’, additional improvements will include easy access walks, historic pathways, enhanced entrances, new trails, works and activities to extend use to a wider range of ages and new audiences using technology and signage. We are pleased to learn that the local community has also been at the heart of this project and part of the funding will help to train volunteers to become ambassadors and guides whilst enhancing conservation work.
A programme of youth engagement will further enhance the opportunities for training and activities. The project officially started at the end of last year and has been a collaborative effort, involving anyone that is keen to be part of it locally.
These are just two examples of the council being on the forefront of best practice. It is a council that demonstrates excellence in governance, community leadership and council development;it is for these reasons that it has been awarded Quality Gold status under our new Local Council Award Scheme and we hope to see many others following in its footsteps from hereon in.
Ampthill Town Clerk, Dawn Sutherns, said of the award: “Our staff team and Councillors have worked so hard over the past four years to make the Council into one that shines in Central Bedfordshire. The Quality Gold Award reflects this and will enable us to set the bar high for the next four years. We are so proud to have been awarded this status.”