Parish Chairman Notes May 2020

These are very strange and worrying times for the parish. The Chairman’s Notes of March and April, have been overtaken by the fast moving events of the last few weeks, and are now largely irrelevant, but I hope the following will give you an idea of how Capel Parish Council and community it serves are coping with the present emergency.

It has been heartening to see the community pull together over the last few weeks to support each other and those most vulnerable within our community. Parish councillors were among a much wider group of volunteers that came together in mid-March before the lockdown to deliver slips of paper to local residents offering a phone number and contact details of a neighbour willing to help those vulnerable or self-isolating at this difficult time. Since then the group has grown into the Capel Covid volunteers, a group seeking to help those within the parish affected by the virus. The parish council also refers requests for help made by the Borough Council to the group.

In co-operation with the Paddock Wood Community Advice Council (PWCAC) Capel Parish Council has made the Capel Hardship Fund available to those suffering financially from the virus or the previous flooding episodes in February. Details can be found on the parish council website or directly from PWCAC

The Parish Council is not running normally at the time of writing, and we envisage this situation remaining for several weeks ahead. All face to face meetings were stopped, and the planned council meeting on 30th March was postponed. The parish elections scheduled for this May have now be postponed until May 2021, so the present council has another year in office. At present the day to day running of the council is being handled by the clerk in consultation with the Chairman and vice Chairman and where relevant the chairs of the council’s various committees. As from April 4th the Government bought in legislation allowing virtual council and committee meetings and the council are investigating the practicalities of this, meanwhile we are communicating with each other through email. Parish council meetings are normally held in public. However, this is no longer possible so we would encourage residents with concerns or issues they want to raise with the parish council to write to and she can refer these to councillors who can respond accordingly. Comments on planning applications should also be made to the clerk and copied to TWBC via their planning portal. The parish council will continue to make planning comments having agreed their response through email. At the time of writing councillors are also due to take part in a telephone conference call with the Borough on setting up a Neighbourhood Plan group.

As of the first week in April the Recreation Ground remains open for exercise within government guidelines, but to encourage social distancing and to prevent the transmission of the virus on hard surfaces the play areas and the MUGA have had to be closed for the time being. Please abide by this instruction which is for the safety of everyone. On a brighter note the Friends of Five Oak Green have been awarded the funding which will allow them to install a new play area next to the MUGA; this will be installed at the same time as the zip wire funded by the parish council. The installation has been provisionally timed for June, but circumstances may push this back until later in the summer.

If you are a key worker you have our thanks and admiration, if you are not stay at home and stay healthy!

Hugh Patterson