The Hersham Community Council
Hersham is a village community with a long heritage and a strong identity; welcoming and friendly. However, it needs protection. In the recent changes to local ward boundaries Hersham lost much of its traditional territory and, with it, half its councillors in the Elmbridge Borough Council. This means we now have less representation. Many residents who are proud of being a part of Hersham are now actually represented by councillors from Esher, Weybridge or Oatlands. Something needs to happen otherwise the community risks being fragmented and marginalised. To add insult to injury there is now a proposal to change the parliamentary boundaries so that our village will now be divided north and south.
The current state of affairs:
The first step on the campaign to create a Community Council for Hersham has been completed. A petition was accepted by Elmbridge Borough Council in early March which easily passed the 7.5% of electorate needed - so there is clearly a lot of support for this proposal.
The Borough Council now needs to publish the terms of reference, which the legislation says must involve us. Then there will be a consultation period during which local groups will be asked for their views. Local businesses, local public and voluntary organisations must also be consulted, so if you are a member of this type of group, make sure that your views are heard. All representations must be taken into account. This must all happen within twelve months from the acceptance of the petition.
We hope to have regular meetings which any residents can attend, so that we can truly represent the views of the majority of Hersham residents. Most don't go out and vote in local elections and we want to enthuse those people in particular. Hersham is such a great place to live and this local initiative will enhance it further.
The steering group will be publishing a bimonthly newsletter to encourage discussion, which will also be put onto this website. Delivering this many newsletters is a mammoth undertaking for a group of volunteers, so if you can help please do contact us: our email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Our submission to the Parliamentary Boundary commission has been added to this site: we were not impressed to find that there were proposals to split Hersham yet again, this time between Weybridge and Esher, but along a different boundary even from that which was drawn after the Elmbridge review. This emphasises the urgent need to set up this council so that Hersham can have a voice and to stop it being hacked away on all its edges. With the support of residents, it will happen and the boundary will be stabilised. We believe this is the best way to ensure that we continue to receive the services and support that we should receive.
A Community Council for Hersham - key facts
- A community council is a legally binding level of governance with dedicated councillors, elected by the community to focus on issues within the community.
- The title community council is a new way of describing parish councils, highlighting their connection with the community but avoiding confusion with parish churches.
- A community council has the ability to apply for grants for specific local projects.
- It can encourage and support new and existing groups within the community.
- A community council for Hersham would be a body of around a dozen unpaid, elected volunteer councillors who are committed to seeing the community retains a strong voice.
- Community councils are non-party-political bodies whose members are be elected by you, the residents, solely to represent the community.
- They are funded through what is called a precept, collected at the same time as your council tax.
- Whilst there would be a small annual cost per household, this money would be entirely for the benefit of the Hersham community and in addition to any expenditure by Elmbridge Borough Council.
Why should Hersham have a Community Council?
Every town, village or community needs its own local voice to help maintain and develop its sense of identity and an associated caring and inclusive community spirit. This is particularly true of Hersham following the ward boundary review carried out in 2016. Elmbridge Borough Council (EBC) ward boundaries were reviewed by the Local Government Boundary Commission England (LGBCE) to equalise the electoral numbers in each ward, following a reduction in the number of EBC councillors.
This has resulted in many Hersham electors now being represented by councillors of adjacent wards. Previously Hersham had 6 councillors, now we have only 3. There are another 9 from other wards who have a say in matters relating to Hersham, but who are primarily interested in their own communities. Places without a strong local voice become less well defined as a community and less able to defend their cause forcefully as local services and the green belt are threatened.
Creating a Community Council will help the community of Hersham retain its identity and give it a public voice.