Parish Council & Planning

ParishCouncilThe Council of 7 members is elected for a period of four years at the end of which all councillors must be re-elected. The last elections were in May 2015, and so the next elections will be in May 2019 (on Thursday 2nd).

The council year runs from 1st April to 31st March.

Local government – the parish council is the level of local government below District which in turn is below County.  Gary Curtis represents us on Rother District Council and our County Councillor is Kathryn Field.  Both are active supporters of our parish and regularly attend meetings of the parish council.

Finance – the only way that the parish council is permitted to raise funds is through the precept.  The precept is the total amount required for the year divided by the number of properties in the parish and Rother District Council collects it as part of the Council Tax.  The amount per household is adjusted to reflect the different property bands, i.e. a band H property, for example, pays more than a band D.

Transparency – this is the increasingly important watchword for local government, starting with the Localism Act of 2011 with the most recent update being the transparency regulations of April 2015.  Meetings have always been in public, but now there is a set space in the agenda for the public to address the council.  The latest regulations require the publication of detailed accounts each year and these will appear under Standing Orders and Financial Information.

History of the parish council – the first parish council, for the parish of Ashburnham, was formed in 1894 when parish councils were created by act of parliament.  The Earl of Ashburnham was the first chairman and the minute book from that era survives and may be inspected on application to the parish clerk.  Penhurst did not have a parish council but had an annual parish meeting though no record of those meetings has survived as far as we know.  In 1954 a Grouping Order was made and is cited as the County of East Sussex (Parishes of Ashburnham and Penhurst) Order, 1954 and it grouped the two parishes under a common parish council.  The order defines the name of the common parish council as “The Parish Council of Ashburnham with Penhurst”, but very soon it seems the word ‘with’ was replaced by an ampersand (&) which remains in common use to this day as an alternative to the correct legal name.  Click the following link in order to download a scanned image of the grouping order.   Grouping Order 1954