The next election for Capel Parish Council will take place on Thursday May 7th. If you are interested in representing your community as a member of CPC over the next four years this is how you can go about it.
What does Capel Parish Council do?
Capel is one of around 9 000 parish and town councils throughout the country whose principle function is to promote the well-being of the local community. It has direct responsibilities which include managing the Recreation Ground, the allotments in Five Oak Green and the Memorial Cottages in Brampton Bank. Even more important is its role as a community champion representing local opinion to other bodies including the borough and county councils, the MP, utilities providers, such as SE Water, the NHS and so on. It is the local authority closest to the community, and often the first port of call people will go to for help with their concerns and ideas for improving the parish.
[NB Capel Parish Council represents the civil parish of Capel – it is not to be confused with church or ecclesiastical parish of Capel, although its boundaries are similar.]
How does the parish council relate to other councils?
Capel Parish Council is part of the tier of English local government closest to its residents. Like Kent County Council (responsible for larger scale services like education, highways and social services) and Tunbridge Borough (responsible for refuse collection and planning among other things), parish and town councils like Capel are elected public bodies. Capel Parish Council is one of sixteen parish and town councils in the Tunbridge Wells Borough area, and one of 320 in Kent and Medway.
What kind of people serve on the parish council and what would be the commitment?
There are nine councillors on Capel Parish Council elected by voters on the electoral role in Capel every four years. The present councillors come from a wide range of backgrounds and from across the parish. The boundaries of the parish include Five Oak Green, Tudeley, Capel, Whetsted, Colts Hill, and Postern and the council attempts to represent all of them. The Council meets once a month for a full Council meeting. The length of meetings depends on the issues on the agenda but is typically around two hours. In addition, there are committees to deal with specific functions, such planning and finance and resources. Councillors are occasionally required to attend other meetings, for example if appointed to represent the Council on outside bodies. The planning committee is a statutory consultee for planning applications submitted to TWBC which means its comments have to be taken seriously by the borough planners when deciding on planning permission.
What kind of issues will I deal with?
There some very important issues facing the parish of Capel at the moment. Not least are the proposals in the TWBC draft local plan which the present council sees as a threat to the very existence of this community in its present form. Other issues include road safety and highways in our area, as well as the management of the council’s assets and responsibilities in the community. For example, we have recently upgraded the CCTV around the Village Hall and car park to protect the cricket pavilion (also owned by CPC and let to the cricket club) and particularly the allotments in the light of recent thefts there.
How will the election work?
The credibility of the parish council and thus its ability to represent residents will be greatly improved if its members are elected by those residents; for this to happen there needs to be at least 10 candidates standing for election. Some of the existing councillors will stand again, but some may stand down and it is always healthy to have competition which brings new blood and new ideas. Standing for election is very simple – all you need is to fill in the required forms (see below) and ask two fellow residents, who are entitled to vote, to nominate you. Nominations have to be submitted to the Town Hall by 4pm on Wednesday April 8th. If there are more than 9 candidates, there will be an election on Thursday May 7th. This will be on the same day as the election for the Tunbridge Wells Borough Councillor and the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner.
How to find out more?
If you would like to know more about how the parish council operates please contact the Parish Clerk, Emma Ivory at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website www.capel-pc.org.uk
The electoral Commission: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/candidate-or-agent/parish-and-community-council-elections-england has a useful website where you can download all the forms and information you need to stand for election.
For more information about how the election process will work in Tunbridge Wells Borough please contact the Electoral Services Manager, Town Hall, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN1 1RS T: 01892 554403 extension: 4403