Council of the Week: Whitwick Parish Council

Whitwick is an ancient village mentioned in Domesday Book. It lies between Coalville, an industrial revolution mining town, and the rural Charnwood Forest.

The council is relatively new, elected for the first time in 2011 to provide a strong, independent voice for the village and to protect its identity from being lost in a greater Coalville urban sprawl.

The council has successful delivery on three projects in one financial year at minimal cost to local taxpayers.

  • Workout in Whitwick - a new outdoor fitness for all ages and abilities

  • Whitwick Community Office – conversion of former public conveniences to establish our first local public service access point while also regenerating a prominent site

  • Whitwick Park Hall – a former youth club building refurbished, refurnished and reopened to provide a multi-purpose community space

The council worked with the district council on the workout project to access £22,000 planning gain money and a £10,000 top-up grant. For the office, the district council gifted the premises and donated some furniture while the county council, the Lottery and the Co-op made grants of £10,000, £10,000 and £723 respectively. For the hall, the council worked with the former trustees who surrendered their lease so ownership could revert to the council and donated £3,000 towards the improvements, students of Stephenson College did most of the refurbishment as their community project for the current academic year.

The council has always sought to keep local people informed of its activities and to facilitate two-way communication. It has used a number of channels to do this including a website, purchasing pages in a village magazine, stalls at local events, news items on social media, news releases to local media, public notices on our own notice board and developing the annual electors’ meeting as a village annual general meeting. The council are currently in the process of commissioning a new website, which will be built around a more holistic community framework rather than focussed on the council itself.

Following its inaugural meeting, the council engaged Lorraine Ellis, clerk and Phil Ellis, assistant clerk, who both had excellent qualifications, extensive public sector experience and had previously clerked at parishes. Lorraine already held a Certificate in Local Council Administration (CiLCA) qualification, which enabled the council to adopt the general power of competence. Having overseen the land transfers and managed delivery of the three priority projects, Phil and Lorraine are about to retire and following an exhaustive recruitment exercise, Mike Broad has been appointed as our new parish manager with a remit to use his community development experience to unlock community capacity and look at new ways of meeting local needs.

Media Watch | 48
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