The first meeting of Okeford Fitzpaine Parish Council took place on January 1st 1895. This was the inaugural meeting and the only items of business dealt with were the election of officers and the clerk’s salary. The first chairman was the Rev’d J H Philips supported by councillors Tizzard, Loder, Wallis, Herrington, Bracher, Mallet and Phillips. The first clerk was G W Rose with a salary of £15. At that time there was also a treasurer who was F G Symonds the manager of the Dorsetshire Bank, Sturminster Newton. The second meeting followed on January 15th 1895 when it was proposed to look at a water supply for the village and the expense of such a scheme.
In the succeeding years there have been many parish clerks and many councillors who have initiated and completed projects like the purchase of the Recreation Ground in 1966 and in more recent times Bowey Field and also oversee the day to day running of the council.
A much needed extension to the Pavilion at the recreation ground and play equipment at Bowey Field were completed in the mid 90’s and other projects have included refurbishment of The Cross area and The Pound.
The present council is comprised of 7 councillors supported by a clerk.
Councillors give their time freely to represent the parish on all matters including planning and a wide range of other services. The only person to receive remuneration is the clerk. We suspect that all clerks over the years have provided value for money by giving much more time to parish affairs than that for which they are paid. Clerks and councillors working in partnership for the community.
The parish council meets at least monthly in the Pavilion at the Recreation Ground, Castle Lane usually on a Tuesday at 7-30pm. The dates are advertised on the village notice boards at Okeford Fitzpaine, Belchalwell, Fiddleford and the website along with the agenda and minutes of the previous meeting.
All meetings are open to members of the public and press and part of the meeting is set aside for members of the public to ask questions, put forward their points of view and ideas or suggest areas that need the parish council’s attention. The meetings normally finish between 9pm and 10pm depending on the amount of business.
The parish council is the first tier of government and probably the most democratic in as much as it works close to the people it represents, the councillors are known to the electorate and are often in direct contact with many of them in daily life. Meetings and councillors are accessible to the electorate and the electorate have a voice.
Vigilance is needed so that this level of government is not eroded whether by design or default. This can only be achieved if there is an active parish council supported by an electorate who take an interest – all have a part to play.
Some of the major areas that occupy this council’s time are the recreational facilities, their upkeep and improvement. We are lucky in this parish to have a good community spirit, much of the work is carried out by volunteers including councillors and parishioners thus keeping the costs down on such things as grass cutting, repairs and improvements.
The council operates under a best value policy even though at present we are exempt from the best value legislation we try to ensure that all expenditure produces positive benefits and bureaucracy is kept to a minimum.
It is surprising how much we can get done by everyone working together all doing a little but producing a lot for the benefit of all. If you feel you have the time or a particular skill that could contribute to the community effort please don’t be shy contact the clerk, there is always something to do!!
Contact the clerk by email [email protected]
The Parish Council manages a website to provide information such as minutes, etc. http://okefordfitzpaine-pc.gov.uk/