I would like to give you an update on how the current Coronavirus situation is affecting the Parish Council, and what we are currently doing during this difficult time.
You will understand that the current national emergency, the like we haven’t seen probably since the war, is affecting us all. We are dealing with a situation that none of us have experienced before, and like many organisations, the Parish Council has had to make some changes in response.
We are following government advice that has been provided to local government, including some changes enacted by new emergency legislation, that has been recently been passed. We all have to play our part in reducing the spread of the virus, so there are things that we are changing to achieve this.
The Parish Clerk and I have reviewed our arrangements and to ensure that we minimise contact and follow the government maintain social distancing measures we have taken the following action.
Firstly, the parish office is now closed to the public, but the administration of the council is continuing as normal, such as enquiries about bookings etc. The Clerk can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also now a mobile telephone which can be used to contact the Clerk, during normal office hours, 07487 224728
Councils have been given an extension to the period that year end accounts are presented to the auditors and we are working on these now.
We are also looking at how we might manage decision making in the coming weeks at full council and our committees - to minimise unnecessary contact. All councils are looking at alternative ways using technology to deal with this under new powers for local government under emergency legislation.
As the chairman of the audit and finance committee over the past 12 years, I am pleased that the Parish Council has built up a strong level of reserves as this situation develops over the coming weeks.
It is most likely that our Annual Parish Meeting (planned in April) and the Annual General Meeting of the Council (in May) will be delayed to later in the year. This has yet to be decided, but we will publicise the dates of these meetings as soon as the decision is made.
No decision has been made as yet regarding the 2020 Senior Trips, but this is likely to be another area likely to be affected.
Our other regular work of the council, such as litter picking is being altered to meet our new obligations, but we are continuing to work to keep the village looking tidy, and providing safe open spaces for residents to get their daily exercise - in line with government recommendation.
We will therefore be continuing the grass cutting of all council-owned green space in the village (as this can be done without risk of contact with others) but with a reduced amount of grass cutting on some of the highways verges.
HPC litter bins, including dog bins, will continue to be emptied, and we are on hand to respond to any specific maintenance issue.
I am proud that the Parish Council was one of the earliest to offer to assist the Sevenoaks District Council volunteer scheme, that has been set up to help the most vulnerable people across the district with the delivery of food and medical supplies. We have offered the services of our grounds staff and the parish van if it is required, to support the local District Council assistance effort on behalf of the UK government.
Finally, if you need to contact us to report an issue or to ask a question, you can do so by contacting one of the councillors (see details on this website and in the latest HPC newsletter) or using one of the methods below:
Tel: 07496 818558 (chairman)
Chairman, Hextable Parish Council