Kennington Community Council was established in May 2019.
As the Council embraces modern conferencing technologies and resumes meetings, after missing its April meeting, here we look back the first year of one of four new Councils created in Kent last year.
In terms of practical achievements of the Council, we highlight the following:
Introduction of a community grants and projects scheme, with two rounds of evaluation of applications – two grants were paid out and two others have been earmarked in the reserves to be paid when the larger projects concerned are ready to proceed.
Conducting a major public consultation jointly with Ashford Borough Council on the future use of the former Bockhanger Community Centre site – a good rate of responses was received from a community survey
In the planning arena, a submission to the Planning Inspectorate opposing a development of housing along the Canterbury Road at Ashford Hockey Club and two substantial submissions to the ABC Planning Committee calling for a series of conditions to be attached before the Great Burton Farm development is authorised – the latter involved a councillor analysing hundreds of pages of evidence submitted to Ashford Council
Commencement of a project to restore the entrance arch to the Kennington Garden of Remembrance;Establishing a Kennington Highways Improvement Plan and submitting it to Kent County Council; and most importantly setting up a Volunteer Coordination for the Kennington area as a response to the COVID-19 virus, incorporating safeguards for both the volunteers and those seeking support – over 100 volunteers came forward and are supporting some 50 individuals and families in Kennington.
Much of the first year in the life of the Council has been spent setting up committees, recruiting a Clerk, establishing a budget, along with proper financial procedures, and agreeing priorities. A significant proportion of the budget from last year will go to creating a Reserve.
This is an essential requirement which most Councils will have added to over many years. Having saved more than was planned, the Council has budgeted to spend much more of its limited budget on the community in 2020-21. We have had a relatively high turnover of Council Chairs and also of members. This has made it difficult to achieve continuity but, on the other hand, it has created opportunities for more residents to step forward and bring new ideas into Council discussions. After a year of first baby steps, 2020-21 might be the time for some confident walking.