Last week I went to my first Parish Council Annual Meeting. There was a pretty good turnout at St Peter’s Church Hall for a Thursday evening. However, there was a very noticeable lack of people representing the younger gens of the parish, with no more than a handful of us being under the age of 60…
This is a great shame and by no means a slur on the more senior members in attendance, who have enthusiastically served and donated their time to Limpsfield in countless ways for many years, and not just in retirement. But they don’t represent the whole community. So where was everyone else?
While we are experiencing an aging population and Limpsfield has a fair proportion of older residents, you only have to see the popularity of Limpsfield Infant School, the summer fete, Limpsfield Tennis Club, Raw Skills, Panda Nursery, the cricket clubs and Surrey Dance School to know that this parish is packed full of families with young or teenage children. So why aren’t they representing themselves on the council or in local voluntary activities?
It’s really time that Limpsfield residents in their 30s, 40s and 50s got involved and helped to represent the entire community. This is especially important right now..
Why you need to be involved in the Neighbourhood Plan
The main activity of the Limpsfield Parish Council is currently The Neighbourhood Plan. This is currently being drafted and will set out a sustainable development plan for the next 20 years – including planning and housing, green spaces, local services (sport, leisure, broadband), traffic, parking and business.
The next 20 years means that it’s even more relevant to the younger generations and hugely important that all ages are involved in its contents and the decision-making process. If you don’t contribute to the process, you don’t have the right to complain afterwards about things that are lacking in the plan, or that haven’t been considered!
- Do you think traffic speed, congestion and parking needs addressing?
- Do you want to make sure we prevent our Green Spaces being sold for housing or stop every spare inch of Limpsfield being “in-filled”?
- Do you want more affordable housing?
- Do you want to encourage more small business into Limpsfield?
- Do you want a playground or more recreational space for your kids?
- Do you want faster broadband?
All these things (and much more) are covered in the Neighbourhood Plan.
A need for diversity on the LPC
During last week’s meeting, Mark Wilson, Chair of Limpsfield Parish Council called for diversity, referring to the need for a woman or two on the council, which currently consists of a “number of men of a certain age”.
He’s right, except rather than focusing on the need for women on the council, there is simply a need for younger people – male or female – who can represent the interests of the families and younger generations of the Parish.
So why aren’t we getting involved?
Yes, council meetings are known for their mind-numbing tedium and people who just love the sound of their own voices (both on the panels and in the audience). Personally, I find I get a sort of “meeting Tourette’s” and want to jump up and shout something rude before running out of the building in mild hysterics.
However, I was pleasantly surprised by last week’s meeting, because it truly affected me and my family and while I will never get those two hours of my life back, it was interesting and informative, and the various speakers skipped through the agenda without unnecessary heckling or time-wasting.
It was useful to hear about the Neighbourhood Plan and results of the research, and lovely to hear from Mark Richards of the National Trust, who is responsible for coordinating the merry volunteers who maintain Limpsfield Common, Limpsfield Chart and Ridlands Grove, so we can all safely enjoy our beautiful surroundings at the weekends and in the holidays now and for generations to come.
A two-way street
The Parish Council recognises it has a lot of work to do in terms of updating and improving its communications with its parishioners, particularly the younger ones, and it is working on that. But it’s a two-way street and we all need to be a bit more proactive and involved if we want to be part of the future of Limpsfield.
While having to bow to the district and county councils, Parish Councils still play an important role in the local community and are likely to do so for the foreseeable future. They represent our voice on the most local level and are the first port of call for the small, but significant changes and day-to-day administration in our area.
If you’re on the council itself, there are monthly parish council meetings to go to – but only once a month – and for those who aren’t on the council, but just want to be involved and know what’s going on, there’s the annual meeting for whoever wants to pitch up. But this is, by definition, only once a year!
Be the change…
If you want to see change, you have to actively do something about it.
Yes, being involved in the Parish Council may take up a few hours of your time – but there’s tea, coffee and biscuits and even wine after if you sit it out until the end! Is it really such a hardship? Can we really not spare the time for the sake of our neighbourhood and our families?
Limpsfield is a lovely place, but the Village in particular is in danger of losing its high street, its identity and being simply swallowed up into Oxted. If we do want to maintain its independence, personality, beauty and sense of community and if we want to ensure its future as a thriving village and parish, we all need to get involved.
Limpsfield really does need you – all of you.
For more info on the council, click here.