Council of the Week: Hawthorn Parish Council
Hawthorn is a very small rural village with a population of 400 situated 10 miles east of Durham City near the coast and between the larger cities of Sunderland and Middlesbrough. The Council has 7 Councillors and a precept of £7,000 whilst the village itself has a community centre, one pub, village green and a children’s play area.
Hawthorn Parish Council is the first to apply and be awarded Foundation Status in the new Local Council Award Scheme within County Durham. This is something the council is very proud of and which demonstrates the council’s total commitment to community engagement.
This has been achieved over the past year by proving a number of new events bringing all sections of the community together and also ensuring that everyone in the parish is fully informed of what is happening both in Hawthorn and the wider area.
The very first Christmas tree was provided by the council last November and the switch on of the lights together with Santa and his gifts for the children, carols led by the Salvation Army, warm mince pies and mulled wine attracted over 200 residents. This will be built upon in 2015 with addition of a Christmas Fayre in the community centre.
The second new event was The Big Lunch which was held in June on the play area and in the community centre. It included a bouncy castle, children’s entertainer and free afternoon teas and ice cream. In addition it also afforded the opportunity for residents to showcase their gardens by taking part in the first Open Garden Walk. Residents were also able to view their rival sunflowers. Seeds had been given to all residents by the Parish Council and are now growing throughout the Parish as part of the Sunflower Competition.
All have been very popular and have brought together both the younger and older residents of the village.
Plans are now afoot to develop other annual events including a Remembrance Service in November.
The Parish Council appreciates the importance of ensuring all its residents are kept up to date with what is happening in the Parish and the surrounding area. To this end, the website is continually updated and now publishes what will be required by the new transparency code. Newsletters, delivered to every resident, are produced quarterly but the Hawthorn Round Up is proving to be the way forward in community engagement. This is the new electronic newsletter. It is produced each month by the Parish Clerk and includes direct links to the council current agendas, minutes, and other parish information as well as planning applications at Durham County Council, Police and Neighbourhood Watch information and anything that may be relevant to the local community. Local residents can easily sign up to receive it, and the number is increasing weekly.
Although Hawthorn is very small the Parish Council has recognised the importance of its community and can provide the necessary services, lead and facilitate local events and use modern technology to ensure its residents are included in the decision making for this active and thriving community.