Council of the Week: East Peckham Parish Council
East Peckham is a rural village between within the borough of Tonbridge and Malling, Kent and is twinned with Chereng in the Nord de Par de Calais region. The village has approximately 1,200 homes with 3,500 residents and continuing to expand. The council includes its own Jubilee Hall, educational facilities and a vibrant village centre. There is a network of paths and cycle ways that connect the commercial and residential parts of the village.
The council's resistance to the closure of the surgery led to the council working with their Baroness Audrey Emerton, who raised the matter in the Houses of Commons and Lords. The media campaign led to the matter being featured by national media and local media including BBC Radio Kent, BBC South East Today and BBC South East Sunday Politics Show. Recent introduction of new technology means that the councils meetings are now paperless therefore saving money. The council is also launching its new smartphone/table app in the near future.
The council has totally embraced community engagement, with an active community engagement policy being reviewed annually. The council's website is an information hub and actively seek the views of residents and regularly consult with them on localised issues. Meetings are totally inclusive and have installed a hearing loop within our meeting room. The annual parish meeting which the council organises has developed over the last few years and is now a fantastic social occasion. Facing the closure of the branch surgery, the council has started an online petition, which has attracted a great deal of community support.
The proposed closure of the branch surgery has led the council to show initiative with the support of its residents, Tom Tugendhat MP who has praised the 'impressive parish council', Baroness Emerton, borough councillors and county councillors agree the council has taken the lead and are working with the NHS and Woodlands Health Centre to try and save this essential front line service. The closure was a certainty but thanks to the councils efforts they have managed to win a six-month delay in the closure whilst they work with Woodlands Health Centre on a long-term solution. The council have also issued their police community support officer's with a tablet so that they can monitor village CCTV.
The council has an active communications policy, they produce an Annual Report, which is hand delivered to each residential property and a monthly newsletter. Their website is an information hub and includes news onon all the council’s activities. The council is also on Twitter (@EastPeckhamPC).
The council was recently awarded Foundation Award under the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) Local Council Award Scheme (LCAS) and is currently working towards Quality Gold Award.