[message type=”custom” start_color=”#aaaaaa” end_color=”#777777″ border=”#444444″ color=”#111111″]Since 2007 I have been a Parish Councillor for my village and parish of Charfield. In 2009 I took over as Chairman of the Council and I’m still there. Must be doing something not wrong enough…
I find the role very satisfying, albeit a little challenging at times, and fully in keeping with the Druid concept of service. The Council runs very well with all the Councillors bringing their insight and experience to the team, and our Clerk, Hannah, manages the admin and finances with efficiency and good nature. We mostly have fun – I understand not all Councils do… But it’s a hard working role too, and takes up a considerable amount of my non-paid time.
My first project was to build and maintain the Council’s first ever website at www.charfieldparishcouncil.org.uk, which won an award in 2008 and only recently was called “potentially the best Parish Website in the area”. (Well, if I don’t blow my own trumpet, who will?). The web site is now on it’s second incarnation, and remains heavily used and hopefully useful.
Another project the whole Council undertook was the refurbishment of the junior playground, adjacent the playing fields, which was finally opened in 2010 at a cost of thirty thousand pounds – some of which was raised through grants and some through the precept. We’ve since also installed a MUGA – a multi-use games arena – which is very popular with the village teens.
My Council was the first one in South Gloucestershire to trial and then adopt part-night streetlighting. Year on year, our initiative saves more than nine tonnes of CO2 equivalent and fourteen hundred pounds cash at 2009 prices. Subsequently, I toured other parishes in and out of the county, speaking about the various aspects of the trial. In 2013 we again led the way in South Gloucestershire by replacing all our sodium streetlights (part-night or not) with new super efficient LED lighting. Our night skies are getting ever clearer. And comparing day one to LED completion, our energy footprint for village streetlights has gone from 90 MWh to 19 MWh!!!
Back in 2007, my initial interest in the Council was piqued by a village-wide consultation on the need for a new burial ground – all those in the parish having been closed. Over the years, I have chaired the working group that brought this project to fruition, and in spring 2012 we opened a new ground next to the C13th church, run with both the needs of the parishioners and the non-human life that inhabits our landscape. Another of my web sites www.charfieldburialground.org.uk offers more information. Part laid to a developing wildflower meadow, and part home to about a dozen interments of our local dead folk, it has a marvellous view over the southern edge of the Cotswold escarpment.
Our current priorities are focused on the outcomes from the recent Localism Act and the potential for massive house-building in the area, as well as the diminution of support from the district council as it adapts to cuts from central government. Youth group provision and other services we’ve become accustomed to are being lost or potentially passed on to the parish, and balancing the needs of our folk against the money we hold is taking much of our time.
Extra to my role as Councillor I am also a local Tree Warden, working with the Tree Officers at South Gloucestershire Council to protect and enhance the leafy environment we enjoy. It’s remarkably easy for trees to disappear, whether that be at the hand of developers or through disease and mismanagement, and once gone they are very hard to replace.
I’m very happy to speak to anyone who might be considering such public service to their community.
Councillor Mark Rosher[/message]