This week’s Council of the Week is the only council in South-East England to be accepted so far on the Locality/Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Community Ownership and Management of Assets (COMA) programme in 2015/16. The scheme is largely aimed at principal authorities, making this achievement all the more significant.
The parish of Broadstairs and St Peter’s is located on the Isle of Thanet, in the Thanet District of East Kent, England. It is a successor parish created in 1974 to replace Broadstairs and St Peter’s Urban District, comprising the areas of Broadstairs, St Peter’s and Westwood. Perhaps best known as a seaside resort and a popular tourist destination, the town has a population of approximately 24,400 people. The council’s precept for 2015/16 is £29.70, being by national standards a medium parish council.
In December 2014, Broadstairs and St Peter’s Town Council has been awarded the Foundation Level of the Local Council Award Scheme, attesting their will to make a real difference to their community. The town council has been actively involved in organising public events and festivities. For this purpose, they have set up a grant scheme funded from the council’s precept to which local organisations and event organizers are welcomed to apply. Broadstairs and St Peter’s Town Council has also been involved in other projects, such as organising activities to remember and learn about the Great War, having received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to finance these activities, which included the renovation of the War Memorial.
More recently, they have transformed a decommissioned British Telecommunications phone box on Broadstairs Harbour to house a heart defibrillator, which, although might seem like a minor change, is of great importance to the local community.
Broadstairs and St Peter’s Town Council has applied to the COMA programme as they feel that they have the capacity to better manage some of the buildings owned by the principal authority. Many of these buildings have fallen into disrepair and the town council wishes to bring as many buildings as possible back into full economic use. For those buildings that are beyond repair, the town council wishes to either return them to park land or to replace them with more attractive buildings. This is hoped to not only increase the economic efficiency of the assets within the community, but also to offer better services and facilities to visitors, increasing the attractiveness of the town council as a tourist destination.
The council deserves to be commended to be Council of the Week, due to its exceptional work of giving a voice to the local community, taking action to address residents’ concerns and to meet their needs and setting an example for what local councils can do for their communities.