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Parish Council to decide upon the Play Area - Tue 1st Oct

posted 26 Sept 2013, 14:05 by Unknown user   [ updated 28 Sept 2013, 04:49 ]
The Parish Council are holding a meeting of the full council to discuss and vote on whether Chorleywood gets a play area on the Common 

The meeting will be held on Tuesday 1st October at 8.00pm at the British Legion Hall (behind the Memorial Hall) and we urge residents to either
  • attend the full council meeting, or
  • contact their Parish Councillor to ensure they are aware of your view
as the vote taking place at this meeting will determine the fate of the much longed for Chorleywood Play Area.

This vote is the culmination of over two years work by the Play Area Advisory Committee set up by and appointed by the Parish Council to identify suitable locations within Chorleywood for a much needed play area, together with two formal consultations held by Three Rivers District Council in 2012 and 2013 and the formation of a Focus Group made up of representatives from the District Council (2 x councillors and 3 x officers), Parish Council (2 x councillors and 1 x officer), Chorleywood Residents’ Association / Chorleywoodmums (1 rep) and Friends of the Common (1 rep).  

Out of 4400 households targeted in the 2012 survey, 1103 residents responded and this was stated to be 25% of all households in the area.  95% of responses expressed a preference for a new play area in Chorleywood and of the survey participants, 643 expressed a clear preference for a play area on the Common. This is more votes than any one of the Councillors received in the 2010 Parish Council elections!!

From the original 15 locations identified on the Common by the Play Area Advisory Committee, the Parish Council recommended Location 13 as the "only" viable location after the Higher Level Stewardship funding dismissed a number of other sites on the Common due to their proximity to the ponds.  

In July 2013 a total of 4,400 letters and questionnaires were distributed alongside Chorleywood Parish Council’s newsletter.  492 residents completed the questionnaire which is an 11% response rate for Chorleywood households. 190 of the respondents were adults which mean the children and schools in the area were given an opportunity to be involved in choosing the design that would appeal to them within the restrictions already set out by the Parish Council and the District Council.  (See the demographics below)

Gender   Age                 
Females Males  0-5 6-10  11-15  16-20  21-30  31-40  41-50  51-60  61+ 
 54% 46% 2% 66% 2% 0% 1% 11% 7% 3% 3%

89% of the respondents lived within the Chorleywood parish (within WD3 5 and WD3 4 postcodes), 
with 7% from other WD3 (1, 3, 7 & 8) postcodes and 4% from other areas.

During the Play Area equipment tendering process the Focus Group mutually agreed the type of equipment out of the 4 designs stipulated in the specification of the tender documents.  Each member of the Focus Group then had the opportunity to score the submitted designs against the agreed specification.  An average score for the specification was then recorded, which formed part of the overall assessment score.

Proposal now being voted upon

Option A by EIBE came out as the favoured design both from the Focus Group discussions and the District Council survey conducted over the summer.  The Focus Group also requested that the play equipment be sited within the glade or trees so as to blend in better with the natural environment.  This was taken into consideration and reflected in the designs and photos produced for the public consultation.

The position of the project now is (in summary):
  • Three Rivers District Council have allocated the funding for the Play Area 2 years ago
  • A wide range of background work and two consultations have taken place
  • Three Rivers Council have voted in favour of the Play Area 
  • The Parish Council as the landowner needs now to give approval
  • And finally consent will need to sought from DEFRA to locate the Play Area on Common Land
The project group has significant concerns that the Parish Council may now, despite all this hard work, fail to approve the Play Area on the Common. The power to make this decision lies with the Parish Councillors, in Full Council. If the Parish Council fail to approve the project the allocated monies and resources will probably be put in jeopardy. The Parish Council Open Spaces Committee were due to discuss the Play Area earlier in the month but the meeting was postponed "pending further technical clarification" and the decision has been referred to a retimed Full Council Meeting.

In our email to the community we stated: "We are concerned that the will of the majority of the community to have a new Play Area on the common may be lost in whatever has been queried and caused the Parish Council to pause the approval process. The detail of these technical issues have not been shared with the community - the Friends of Chorleywood Common have also been seeking clarity on what is going on which hasn't been helpful." We accept that the wording of the email might imply that FoCC, by asking for clarification has been unhelpful. However we would like to clarify that it's the lack of detail that hasn't been helpful and FoCC have been positively engaged in the Play Area project and process. Apologies for messing up and mashing our English. More proof reading needed! 

So who has the say at the Parish Council?

The decision is now in the hands of 17 elected Parish Councillors. The most important duty of a Parish Councillor must surely be to represent their residents.  Although they may have received representations either for or against the Play Area proposals, the public consultations highlight the will of this community and its residents to have an additional play area in Chorleywood, and for that to be on the Common.  As far as we are aware no Parish Councillor has proactively sought the opinions of their (parish) residents to either confirm or deny the will of the community expressed by the surveys.

Do residents feel that their views are being accurately represented by the Councillors they have elected? Are the Parish Councillors following a proper democratic process by consulting with their wards before they vote on an issue? Putting aside final legal approvals with DEFRA, and discounting any politics, the question must be - If Chorleywood Parish Council vote against the play area, will they be democratically representing the will of Parish residents?  If they vote against, whose interests will they be serving?

Do you know who represents you on the Parish Council?  Have you made your views known to them, and are they representing your view on this matter?  If not make sure you contact them before 1st October 2013.

You may be interested to know what the local turnout rates for parish council elections in 2010 were when most of the parish councillors were elected:

Cedars ward 28.54%
Chorleywood Chenies Ward 37.02% (2013 – 25.34%)
Chorleywood East 16.30%
Chorleywood West 28.86% 
Quickwood – ran unopposed (Raj Khiroya)

The Common was chosen by 61% of local people in Chorleywood Parish participating in the 2012 survey, which equates to 673 people voting for Chorleywood Common. This far exceeds the maximum number of votes received by any single councillor in the 2010 Parish Council elections. (See Parish Council Election Results in the links above).

As one of our local residents pointed out more than 12 months ago at a Parish Council meeting: "The 'Big Society' forms part of the legislative programme of the Conservative/Liberal Coalition and has a stated aim to create a climate that empowers local people and communities, building a 'Big Society' that will take power away from politicians and give it to people.  We would encourage the Conservative and Liberal Councillors who have been elected to represent the residents of Chorleywood to see that it would be to their credit to actually listen to what the residents say and to embrace the legislative programme of the Coalition!  Too many times I have listened to Council meeting discussions when, if a simple comment from a member of the public had been allowed it would have resulted in a much more meaningful and representative debate”

If you are unfamiliar with how the Parish Council is structured, we have made it easy for you to identify your Parish Councillor by ward.  Click on the link below to find out which ward you live in and use the list we have provided and contact your Parish Councillor before 1st October to make sure your views on the Play Area are known. Public participation at the Parish Council meeting is very limited, so it's better to make sure your views are known in advance.

Chorleywood Parish Councillors by Ward

Quickwood Ward
Cllr Raj Khiroya (Chair Parish Council) -

Chorleywood East Ward
Cllr Maximin Green   - E:  [ Edit: the hotmail address is bouncing, try ]
Cllr Mrs Alex Hayward – E:
Cllr Geoffrey Liley – E:
Cllr Kenneth Morris – E:
Cllr Mrs Alison Preedy (Open spaces committee member) – E:
Cllr Mrs Jacqueline Worrall (Open Spaces committee member) – E:

Chorleywood West Ward
Cllr Mrs Margaret Jarrett (Vice Chair Open Spaces committee) – E:
Cllr Rodney Kipps – E:
Cllr Mrs Vivienne Lantree – E:
Cllr Mrs Lyn Sutherland (Vice Chair Parish Council) – E:
Cllr Stephen Watkins (Open Spaces committee member) – E:

Chenies Ward
Cllr Wendy Boatman (Open Spaces committee member) – E:
Cllr Tony Edwards (Chair Open Spaces) – E:
Cllr Frank Mahon-Daly (Open Spaces committee member) – E:

Cedars Ward
Cllr Miss Pat Howell – E:
Cllr Mrs Jane White – E: