Frequently Asked Questions

Your Parish Council

What is the parish council’s role within local government?
County councils
They are responsible for services across the whole of a county, including schools, roads and rights of way, social care and education. Ours is West Sussex County Council.
District, borough and city councils
They cover a smaller area than county councils and are responsible for refuse, planning, environmental and other mattes. Ours is Horsham District Council.
Parish, community and town councils
They operate at a level below district and borough councils. They provide communities with a democratic voice and a structure for taking community action. This is us, Thakeham Parish Council.
Who are the parish councillors and how long do they serve for?
Thakeham Parish Council has eleven elected councillors who serve for a period of four years. After the four years they can choose to stand for re-election if they wish. The next election will be in May 2023.
You can find all of their details here.
At the beginning of the four year term a new Chair of the council is elected, and sometimes a Vice-Chair, as well as deciding the members of the sub-committees and working groups.
What are the sub-committees and working groups?
The Council delegates much of the detail of its business to these sub-committees and working groups :
Neighbourhood Planning Committee
This group oversees planning, housing and economic development issues, including considering and responding to planning applications, engagement and guidance of potential applicants, oversight of the Council’s built assets, employer liaison, economic and employment matters.
Environment Committee
This group monitors and takes steps to maintain and improve the village’s appearance and amenities, including waste/litter, playing fields and playgrounds, green spaces (including allotments), footpaths and bridleways, transport and road safety and signage.
Community Working Group
This group leads on matters relating to communications, local engagement, community cohesion and safety/security issues.
Finance and Legal Working Group
This group oversees leads on matters relating to the Council’s finances, assets, risks and staffing.
Could I be a parish councillor?
Yes, as long as you meet the criteria below. It’s hugely beneficial to have a diverse parish council who represent the diversity within the parish itself. We would welcome potential candidates from all walks of life.
To be able to stand as a candidate at a parish council election in England or a community council election in Wales you must:
• be at least 18 years old
• be a British citizen, an eligible Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of any member state of the European Union, and
• meet at least one of the following four qualifications:
1. You are, and will continue to be, registered as a local government elector for the parish/community in which you wish to stand from the day of your nomination onwards.
2. You have occupied as owner or tenant any land or other premises in the parish/community area during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election.
3. Your main or only place of work during the 12 months prior to the day of your nomination and the day of election has been in the parish/community area.
4. You have lived in the parish/community area or within three miles of it during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election.

There are certain people who are disqualified from being elected to a parish or community council in England and Wales. You cannot be a candidate if at the time of your nomination and on polling day:
• You are employed by the parish/community council or hold a paid office under the parish/community council (including joint boards or committees).
• You are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order.
• You have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three months or more (including a suspended sentence), without the option of a fine, during the five years before polling day.
• You have been disqualified under the Representation of the People Act 1983 (which covers corrupt or illegal electoral practices and offences relating to donations). The disqualification for an illegal practice begins from the date the person has been reported guilty by an election court or convicted and lasts for three years. The disqualification for a corrupt practice begins from the date a person has been reported guilty by an election court or convicted and lasts for five years.

A person may also be disqualified from election if they have been disqualified from standing for election to a local authority following a decision of the First-tier Tribunal (formerly the Adjudication Panel for England) or the Adjudication Panel for Wales.

Can I come to the council meetings?
Unless indicated otherwise members of the public are welcome to attend the full parish council’s meetings as well as the sub-Committee meetings. Upcoming meetings can be found here.
Meeting agendas can be found here on our website or on the Parish notice boards.
People wishing to make an input in the meeting will have an opportunity to do so.
What powers does the parish council have?
You can find a comprehensive list here but some of the powers include:
– general spending to benefit the community,
– reviewing planning applications within the parish,
– and maintaining rights of way,
– managing allotments,
– creating some bye-laws.
Do parish councillors get paid?
It is possible for parish councillors to be paid a modest allowance (except for coopted members) and they can also receive reimbursement of expenses (except for coopted members). However, most councils do not pay any allowance to ordinary councillors, and it is common for councillors to make no claims for expenses. Thakeham Parish Council does not currently pay any allowances to the councillors.
Where does the money for the parish council budget come from and how is it spent?
The budget is created by levying a “precept” collected from within the council tax paid by the residents of the parish.
You can find comprehensive financial reports from previous years here on our website.
Allocation of funds and spending is discussed and agreed at the monthly parish meetings. Every effort is made to ensure taxpayers are getting excellent value for money.
What does the parish council own and/or manage?
Since the recent construction of several new community assets the parish council now owns:

  • Thakeham Village Hall which is leased to the Thakeham Village Hall Trust.
  • Thakeham Preschool which is leased to Thakeham Preschool.
  • Abingworth football fields and changing room facilities.
  • Abingworth cricket field and pavilion which will be leased to West Chiltington and Thakeham Cricket Club.
  • High Bar Lane children’s playground and a small green play area on Linfield Copse.

Planning

How do I make a planning application?
General information about the need to get planning permission is available here. If you have an application in mind you are welcome to contact the parish for informal feedback on what may, or may not, be likely to get consent. However, such advice should not be construed as expert professional advice.
Who makes the decision about the planning applications?
Horsham District Council is the planning authority for the area.
Thakeham Parish Council is a statutory consultee in relation to all planning applications within the parish boundaries and makes recommendations to the district council.
Where the parish council has objected to an application the case is usually referred to the District Council Planning Committee.
The parish council’s comments are then factored into district-level decisions, but it is one opinion among many and may be over-ridden.
Can the parish councillors approve applications they have a vested interest in?
All members of the parish council are obliged to declare interests they may have, you can view their returned Declaration of Interest forms here.
At the start of each meeting the councillors present are asked to declare their interest in any agenda items, which includes any planning applications, and will not normally participate in the discussion.
We also have strict policies in place regarding any gifts and/or hospitality received as a parish councillor. You can read the policy here.
I have objections to a planning application, who should I contact?
Horsham District Council, as the deciding body, welcomes any comments, whether in support of an application or objecting to it. A comment or objection to a planning application is called a representation.
To make a comment regarding a current planning application online go to the Horsham District Council website here and follow their instructions.
What is Thakeham’s Neighbourhood Plan?
The plan was several years in the making and involved data collection and analysis of the parish (as it was in 2014) and future desires from residents, farmers and businesses.
• The plan sought to locate areas that would be suitable for the development of more housing. The main areas identified were the Abingworth development, the Meadowbrook development on Water Lane in Storrington and the site of Thakeham Tiles Ltd on Rock Road.
• After official reviews and some minor tweaking, the proposed plan was open for a 6 week public consultation in (October-December 2015) providing residents a chance to submit their comments to Horsham District Council.
• After further negotiations and finalisation, a referendum to confirm local support of our Neighbourhood Plan took place on 22nd March 2017. Total voter turnout was 460 (23%). Of those who voted 93% endorsed the plan.
• On 26th April 2017 Horsham District Council formally ‘made’ the Thakeham Neighbourhood Plan.

The plan is now part of the framework of district planning guidance, against which future development applications within the parish boundary will be judged. Sites not identified for development in the plan will be much less likely to be approved though this is not a guarantee.

What is a planning breach?
The failure to obtain planning permission or comply with the details of a permission is commonly known as a ‘planning breach’.

A planning breach usually occurs when:

  • A development that requires planning permission is undertaken without the permission being granted – either because the planning application was refused or was never applied for.
  • A development that has been given permission subject to conditions breaks one or more of those conditions.

You can report any planning breaches directly to Horsham District Council directly HERE

Road Safety

Who designed the pinch point system in Thakeham?
The public authority responsible for the safety of the design of the traffic calming features is West Sussex County Council (WSCC) Highways team, who have worked on this scheme with Abingworth Homes developers and their specialist consultants. Although parish councils are not normally consulted in the process of approving road safety schemes, at every stage we have done all we can to consult with the community and influence the decision-makers.
Why were pinch points chosen?
The parish council used the Abingworth housing development planning process to channel longstanding local concern regarding speeding in the 30mph zone, and this secure outline agreement for traffic calming measures. However, the specific design of those measures remained to be decided between the developer and WSCC Highways, who decided that the only calming option that was realistically available (given available developer funds and WSCC Highways policies) was one based on pinch-points.  The option of raised tables (the parish council’s preference) was ruled out by WSCC Highways as contrary to their current policy.  Likewise, a speed camera-based solution was never a realistic option due to the cost of installation and ongoing management greatly exceeding funds available.
Why is priority given to cars leaving the village?
The parish council expected that the scheme would feature build-outs slowing traffic travelling into the 30mph zone from both north and south, but having reviewed the detail of the roadscape of the 30mph zone the specialist traffic engineers designing the scheme concluded that this was not possible.  Amongst many detailed reasons, key points were: at the southern end, the location of the bus stop (not movable) and minimum sight-line distances were the issue; and at the north end, as well as a difficult combination of bends/junctions, there was an extra constraint that the build-out also needed to be located where it could function as a safe crossing for a new east-west bridleway (still due to be delivered).  The specialist engineers therefore came up with the current counter-intuitive scheme.  They pointed to precedents at many locations for having build-outs in this ‘opposite’ configuration, and that these can slow traffic as effectively as the ‘normal’ pattern, as the core aim is just to make drivers conscious of the need for extra care.  

In autumn 2017, the parish council circulated the draft scheme widely for consultation, and fed back residents’ concerns to the scheme designers about the configuration. This resulted in some minor amends, but the main elements of the scheme have remained unchanged because the designers produced cogent arguments that there is no other viable solution to the complex constraints along this section of road. WSCC Highways team ultimately agreed with the scheme designers that this arrangement was acceptable, and it was implemented in 2018.

Has the visibility been assessed at the northern pinch point?
Yes – WSCC Highways have reviewed this and have signed off the sight-lines at this point to be acceptable.  The parish council has represented local concerns that visibility is poor to those leading the official safety audit process, which involved three separate site visits and reports during late 2018 and early 2019.  It was pointed-out that the rear garden fence-line of Massey Close properties affects the northbound sightline much more than was expected.  However, WSCC Highways’ judgement, whether one agrees with it or not, is that the current layout is acceptable, and specifically that the sightline distance northwards from this build-out does meet Highways guidance standards. The auditors noted that this build-out is located where it is, in part, to facilitate a new bridleway crossing-point with good sightlines in both directions – unlike the current pedestrian crossing nearer to High Bar Lane.  Overall, the safety audit decided that this feature can be safely negotiated with responsible driving, especially northbound drivers obeying the give-way signage and slowing to crawl or full stop, to assess the safety of pulling out.
Have the pinch points actually worked?
As the latest Traffic Calming Speed Study shows, the measures now in place have successfully reduced average vehicle speeds in both directions from around 40mph before the changes, to around 30mph now. That is very positive achievement.
What has the parish council done to make improvements?
We have taken over regular trimming of the grass verge at the northern pinch point, and negotiated with the housing association responsible for adjacent properties to remove a close-boarded fence panel that affected the sightline.
The speed limit on the B2139, between Thakeham and Storrington, was reduced from 60mph to 40mph in August 2019 and we have helped to set up the Thakeham Speedwatch group.
Is anything else going to be done to improve the pinch points?
The parish council is not complacent; we will keep the situation under review and will pursue any further opportunities to improve the calming scheme as they arise.
Dissatisfied residents remain free to make us aware of concerns, but are advised to raise them direct with WSCC Highways, either via the routes set out on the West Sussex County Council website, or by contacting Andrew Howick (WSCC Team Manager – Highway Agreements, Planning Services – by email), he is familiar with the detail of the Abingworth calming scheme.
Who should I report dangerous or anti-social driving to?
You can report cases of dangerous or anti-social driving to Sussex Police via their Operation Crackdown website.
What can I do to help improve road safety?
The most effective practical steps that local people concerned about road safety in Thakeham can take are: drive cautiously yourself, report dangerous or anti-social driving via Operation Crackdown website and participate in the local Speedwatch group.

If you have a question that hasn’t been asked above then please send it to us using this form.

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