Local Election Candidates And Information
By Sandra Constable, PSRA Chair
Park Street is not simply our village, but also one Ward in St Stephen Parish, alongside Bricket Wood and Chiswell Green. All 12 of the Parish Councillor positions will be up for election on 7 May 2015, including Park Street’s five positions.
Does the Parish Council matter?
The choices you make on Election Day will matter a great deal for Park Street, because the Parish Council influences the quality of life for all of our residents.
Councillors do this in three main ways. They take a leading role on local planning and development issues, provide a range of amenities and activities, and – last, but not least – determine how best to spend the local ‘Precept’ collected with your Council Tax (spent largely on facilities and services for residents).
Planning and development
The Council shares the PSRA’s commitment to protecting the Green Belt, and Councillors use their significant voice on planning and development issues by formally objecting to inappropriate planning applications. Councillors play an active role when local changes are proposed – for example, lobbying against reductions to local services such as buses and the mobile library. And, alongside all three residents associations in the Parish, Councillors are leading the development of a ‘Neighbourhood Plan’, which will be drafted through consultation and local participation. Once approved, it will help to protect what is best about the Parish villages, and provide a framework against which proposed developments will be assessed.
Amenities and activities
The Council manages many of the leisure, sports and play areas we enjoy, such those at the Park Street Recreation Ground and Greenwood Park. It provides meeting and rehearsal space for many local groups and clubs at the Parish Centre and Greenwood Park. It provides some bus shelters and public seating, and manages three allotment sites, as well as woodland including Blackgreen Wood and St Julians Wood.
The Council also organises many of the recurring activities enjoyed by our residents, such as Parish in Bloom, the Carol Concert, the Remembrance Day Service, Armed Forces Day and the St Stephen Festival (successor to the Park Street Fete). It also provides the PSRA with free use of grounds and premises for one event per year – this year, it will be the Craft Fair/Boot Sale. The Council supports organisations such as the Park Street Neighbourhood Watch, the Abbey Flyer Users Group and Park Street Village Hall with small grants and/or discounted venue hire.
What is the PSRA’s view?
The PSRA Committee’s view is informed by the PSRA Constitution, which states that our 3rd Objective is: “To provide a voice for its residents by providing moral support for candidates, who are independent of any political party, for local [Parish] government elections.”
So the PSRA has, in the past, endorsed candidates who are non-party-political, and will continue to do so if we are convinced that they have the interests of Park Street residents at heart.
This is the last PSRA News before the election, and at the time of writing, we are aware of five people who intend to run as independent candidates. We have therefore offered them a little space at the end of this article to make their case to you.
Why support independent candidates?
I can’t read the minds of those who wrote our Constitution many years ago, but I think they wanted to Park Street to be represented by Councillors whose loyalties were to the residents and the residents alone. Councillors should represent you, without any danger of conflict between loyalties to residents and to a party political agenda.
I do know that when the PSRA Committee discussed this in January, there was a strong feeling that this principle should be carried forward and that we should do what we could to offer “moral support” to non-party-political candidates.
Your current Park Street Parish Councillors, all of whom live within the village, are non-party-political: Mick Freeman, Ian Getley and Bill Pryce, who ran with PSRA endorsement in 2011; Eileen Whittaker, who ran in 2011 as an independent; and Nicholas Tyndale, who ran with PSRA endorsement in 2012.
However, we should not take non-party-political representation of Park Street as a given: various political parties have fielded candidates in the past, sometimes successfully. Particularly because this Parish election coincides with a General Election, we can expect to see strong campaigns at Parish level from several political parties.
The principle that your PSRA Committee is carrying forward is not meant as a criticism of any specific political party, or of party politics at other levels of government – but we feel that decisions taken about Parish matters should be free from party politics.
I do strongly encourage you to vote – it’s one of the key ways through which you can influence the future of Park Street – but of course, how you choose to vote is your decision.
And please do check the PSRA website (www.psra.org.uk) for any election updates.
Independent candidates running for Park Street Ward, St Stephen Parish Council
My family and I have lived in Park Street for 36 years and I have been a Parish Councillor for 12 years. I am currently chairman of the Parish Council, thereby ensuring that the council operates in an efficient and proper manner. I am also the chairman of the planning committee, and a member of other committees including the Parish fete/arts, leisure and buildings. I have also been instrumental in the organisation of the Carol Concert, the Armed Forces Day and the Remembrance Day service. I work closely with the residents and continually strive, in planning matters, to preserve the Green Belt where ever possible. It is important to me that Park Street retains its village identity. I am independent and have no political allegiance on the Council and strongly believe that the Parish Council should remain non-political.
I have lived in Park Street for 30 odd years of which I have seen many changes some good and some not so good. I have been a Parish Councillor for almost twenty years and have served on several committees including Planning (chair for many years), Annual Events (this includes the annual Carol Concert, leader), Buildings, Standards Committee, Trees and Woodlands, Licensed Refreshment Facility, Parish in Bloom (as Event Coordinator), Parish Environmental Liason Group, Parish Council Highways Meeting, St Stephen Community Policing Forum. My Priorities are to continue to improve our Village status and protect our Green Belt and all other important matters that will maintain our Village status.
A Parish Councillor can really make a difference. My main interest was to prevent inappropriate development, improve the leisure facilities and encourage people to participate in the arts and sport. I have been able to do a great deal towards achieving those aims and having spent three years as the Chairman of the council – almost a full-time job – and I have been able to make a difference in other areas. Anyone interested in becoming a Parish Councillor will find it very rewarding, exciting, sometimes frustrating, but in the main very satisfying.
I’ve been a member of the PSRA Committee since my wife and I moved here in 2007, and was a long-time editor of PSRA News. I was elected to Parish Council in 2012, with the PSRA’s endorsement, under the banner ‘Keep party politics out of Parish decisions’. I have taken a particular interest in promoting and improving the facilities managed and events held by the Parish for its residents, and in developing the Parish website. I am a member of the Parish Festival Working Party (and, before that, the PSRA’s Fete Committee), the Buildings Committee, the Income-Generation Working Party and the Localism & Community Assets Working Party. I support improvement to the Abbey Flyer line through the Community Rail Partnership, and strongly oppose any development that detracts from our village status.
I was elected as a Councillor four years ago and during this time I have been passionate about retaining our Green Belt land. I have been intrinsically involved in reviewing planning applications so that developments are not overpowering and that green spaces are retained. In addition my priorities include ensuring that our leisure facilities are affordable and well maintained. I am also keen to develop local businesses and local talent and have been instrumental in establishing a biannual festival. I believe that by working energetically and by listening and responding to your views together we can continue to make real improvements to our village.