Worksheet S4: Local government and community organisations

Sub-section 1: Local Government Structure & Access Edit

Q 1. Councils

a.What councils are there in the area? Identify County, District or Borough, Town and Parish Councils

b.What services do they cover (for example, planning, payments, environmental health, social services, youth, school)?

(Worksheets EC2 Q18; T2 Q11,12; T3 Q16 also refer to local government services)

Kent County Council at Maidstone

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council at Kings Hill

Parish Councils: Birling, East Malling & Larkfield, Kings Hill, Leybourne, Mereworth, Offham, Ryarsh, Trottiscliffe, West Malling.

KCC offers full range of Council service

Q 2. Council access

a.How can local residents access these Councils?

b.Where are the Councils' offices?

c.Where are Council information points located (for example, the library or town hall)?

d.Where and when do councillors hold local surgeries?

KCC offices at Maidstone

Borough Council offices at Kings Hill

Q 3. Is there a Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) for the County and/or District (or for the unitary authority area)? If so:

a.Who are the co-coordinators of the LSP(s)?

b.What agencies are involved?

c.Which of these agencies have a presence locally?

d.What thematic or local sub-groups do the LSP(s) have, and who chairs and administers them?

e.What local issues are being addressed by the LSP(s)?

(Worksheets EN2 Q11; EN3 Q1; EC2 Q5; EC3 Q19 also refer to community involvement)

There is a West Kent LSP and Strategic Area Partnership working with KCC, a Tonbridge and Malling local board – however the area in not included in any special regeneration initiatives as a result of the relative wealth of the area and massive investment at Kings Hill with a KCC/private investment partnership.

Q 4. Community Strategy

a.What does the Community Strategy specifically say about the town or local parishes?

b.Where is your area mentioned by name?

c.Where are your local issues mentioned?

d.How well have your needs and aspirations been taken into account?

e.What commitments in the Community Strategy of both the District and County Councils, or unitary authority, may have an impact on your town and surrounding countryside?

f.When they are planned to take effect?

The Kent Community Strategy is called the Vision for Kent: The Borough Council is a partner in this. Initiatives affecting the area are the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) and appointment of PCSOs for neighbourhood policing. Additionally supported independent living for the elderly filters down into Social Care policies available locally. The Vision also commits the partnership to ensuring community regeneration and empowering communities to work towards their own goals. The Rural Towns programme is an example of this. Additionally Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council Community Strategy focuses on sustainable communities – key areas raised for Malling were traffic congestion, health services and activities for teenagers: Initiatives have been put in place to address deprivation and youth issues in East Malling, car parking planned for West Malling station, access to hospitals needs a solution. The Council is also planning to review the issue of car parking in West Malling later this year, but has also committed to supporting the market towns to thrive. The strategy consulted with Parish Councils, community groups, businesses and individuals in the area.

Q 5. Future action plans

a.How do the LSP or local authorities intend to ‘bridge the gap’ between the Community Strategy and your future action plan?

b.What protocols, guides, discussion forums or templates are there for drawing together research and actions?

c.How would the local authority or LSP like you to liaise with them during preparation of your action plan and afterwards?

The Borough Council is committed to supporting community programmes and is part of the MAP steering group.

Sub-section 2: Community Involvement Edit

Q 6. These questions will help assess how thriving democracy is

a.What was the turnout in the last General Election?

b.How does this compare with the 2001 national average of 59%?1

c.What was the turnout at the last District/Borough election?

d.How does this compare with the 2003 national average for Shire Districts of 35%?2

e.How many seats were contested at the last Parish/Town Council election?

f.Has the local Town or Parish council been awarded Quality Parish status?

This recognises councils that have a full electoral mandate and a high standard of management by qualified staff.

(Worksheets EN2 Q11; EN3 Q1; EC2 Q5; EC3 Q19 also refer to community involvement)

Last General Election turnout was 68.4%.

Malling Central turnout for KCC elections was 62.2% in 2005.

T&M Borough Council election turnout was 38.33% in 2007.

Most parish council seats were uncontested in 2007.

Elections were held in East Malling & Larkfield, Trottiscliffe and Offham – 21 seats were contested. Turnouts for all were higher than the 2003 national average.

Q 7. Local community representation

a.What representation does the local community have on partnership and council committees or sub-committees?

b.How many representatives are there?

c.How active are they?

d.Which committees or sub-committees do they sit on?

e.Which groups of the community do they represent?

(Worksheets EN2 Q11; EN3 Q1; EC2 Q5; EC3 Q19 also refer to community involvement)

The West Kent Partnership has representatives from the Federation of Small Businesses, West Kent Housing Association, Home Start, Age Concern South West Kent, Voluntary Action West Kent, and West Kent Civic Trust.

Q 8. Community influence

What mechanisms do community groups have to influence developing policies or strategies?

Look, for example, at what influence they have in preparing Village Design Statements, Supplementary Planning Guidance, or delivering local services.

The Borough Council has online access to consultations like to the West Malling Station Parking scheme and Parking scheme. Main links to developing strategies are via Parish, Borough and County Councillors. However there is no mechanism for the community to produce a single response to proposed changes – this is partly because of a lack of communication to the community about significant issues.

Q 9. Are there any active neighbourhood forums, residents’ or tenants’ associations?

The Malling Society is an active community group.

There is the Association of West Kent Tenants and Residents – all West Kent Housing Association tenants are automatically members of this.

Q 10. Involvement in community development

a.What opportunities have local people had to experience being actively involved in community development?

b.What community consultation programmes have been run in the last year?

(Worksheets EC2 Q18; T2 Q11, 12; T3 Q16 also refer to local government services. Worksheets EN2 Q11; EN3 Q1; EC2 Q5; EC3 Q19 also refer to community involvement))

Consultations have been run regularly for the Community Strategy; upcoming consultations are into the West Malling Station Development and Parking issue.

The Council uses a Citizen’s Panel as main source for local opinions.

There is no forum for MAP community to discuss and agree their view – there have been some examples of this happening in the past so the community can be mobilised to participate, requires a means of 2-way communication with the community on what issues are arising and then for a debate and feedback on their views. This does not exist at present.

There is a Tonbridge and Malling Youth Forum – it is currently being reconstituted to involve more youth representatives.

Q 11. What support is there to help develop community involvement or co-ordinate building capacity in the community?

Is there, for example, a dedicated local authority or rural community council officer?

East Malling has been a focus for regeneration activities and has two community workers to assist with developing community projects. Village shops have been provided with support and advice in partnership with Action for Communities in Rural Kent.