Redlingfield's Parish Council is a Village Meeting with one open public meeting a year at Horham & Athelington Community Centre, usually in late May or early April (see events). Each year a chairman, treasurer and secretary are elected along with committee members.
Redlingfield Village Meeting's committee meets throughout the year to discuss issues that affect the village and to organise the fundraising events for the year - usually Pubs throughout summer on the Doorstep Green, a BBQ, cheese and wine and harvest supper (see events).
The money raised at these events pays to keep the centre of the village well-kept, to help St Andrews church and to maintain the Doorstep Green among other things. The success of these fundraising events means that we don't need to raise a rate through the local Council Tax.
The Village Meeting is keen to ensure that Redlingfield remains a vibrant community. One of its long-term aims is to bring affordable housing to the village to ensure that children are not forced to move away, farmworkers can live near their work and parents near their offspring.
The current chairman of the Parish Council is Mike Ager. Mike Ager's Register of Members Interests.
The Parish Council can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Redlingfield Parish Meeting and the Village Committee
We have a Parish Meeting here in Redlingfield – not a Parish Council. So each year we have an Annual Village Meeting, normally held in May, at which the Parish Chair person, clerk and treasurer are elected.
The Village Committee are also elected at the Annual Village Meeting, they are a group of people who volunteer to work on behalf of the village organising various activities and fundraising eg Pubs on the Green, litter picking, Summer BBQ, Race Nights, previous cheese & wine events and maintaining the Doorstep Green and church, as well as planting trees, installing play equipment and generally helping out. In addition, many other villagers give their time to help carry out these activities on an ad-hoc basis.
Volunteers also maintain the village website and produce the village magazine, the Athelington, Horham & Redlingfield news, which is printed in full colour, produced quarterly and distributed free to some 350 local businesses and residents. Copies are also on the website www.redlingfield.suffolk.gov.uk.
The Village Committee and all the other volunteers are one of the things that make Redlingfield such a great place to live, a living example of a community coming together to do good stuff.
Neither the officials (Chair, clerk or treasurer) nor any of the Village Committee receive any payment whatsoever for carrying out these voluntary activities and duties.
Redlingfield Parish Meeting is a body corporate (ie part of the Statutory Local Government Structure) and as such is legally entitled to raise a local Council Tax to pay for things that the village wants done. However, the Annual Village Meeting voted overwhelmingly to not have a local Council Tax – instead they voted to hold fundraising events. So that’s what we do.
Parishes (originally relating to Manors in the middle ages) are one of the oldest forms of “local government” in the UK
The Annual Village Meeting is the decision-making body for the village. At this annual meeting of the Parish anyone and everyone is free to speak their mind, to propose things that we should be doing or should not be doing. Where people have either negative views about what is happening or alternatively ideas for projects they would like to see happening, they are very welcome to voice them. Proposals are voted on and the Chair then takes responsibility for carrying out those wishes (provided they are lawful) to the best of their ability. For radical or contentious proposals the entire village would be consulted.
Fundraising for village projects and village expenditure
Throughout the year various events and activities take place to raise funds for the village. In addition external funding (grants and donations) is sought for projects where possible.
All the grants and donations we have received over the years have been for specific named projects.
The main village expenditure each year relates to insurance and grass cutting and purchases to sell at the various events – these events make a profit. The village magazine covers its costs from advertising revenue.
At various times the Village Meeting has agreed to make contributions to projects from its funds. Eg in 2009 there was a £1,000 contribution towards new play equipment on the Doorstep Green, from 2009 to 2011, £500 per year was donated to church repairs and in 2017 £2,000 was contributed to the cost of the highway access for the Doorstep Green. In July 2017 two 10ft by 15ft pop up tents/gazebos were purchased at a cost of £438 for use at village events.
Fast broadband in Suffolk
The Suffolk Fast Broadband project is run by Suffolk County Council and is funded by a number of organisations including Central Government, Suffolk County Council, Mid Suffolk District Council, the Suffolk Leap (local enterprise partnership) and local businesses. It is seen as a beneficial strategic initiative to increase tourism, employment and learning opportunities and make Suffolk more attractive and competitive. It is designed to bring fast broadband to rural areas where providers would not find it commercially viable to deliver it otherwise.
As part of local Government, Redlingfield Parish Meeting is expected to play its part in the project and also Redlingfield residents have made it abundantly clear, at any and every opportunity, that better broadband is vitally important to the village and that it is a priority. Hence the Parish Meetings involvement in getting the broadband infrastructure installed and its liaison with both Openreach and Suffolk County Council’s broadband project manager.
Whether residents or local businesses ultimately choose to subscribe to fast broadband or which provider they choose is entirely up to them. The Parish Meeting merely wishes to ensure that it is available for those that want it.
The Doorstep Green
The creation of the Doorstep Green came about in 2006 following an Annual Village Meeting, where residents said that a safe place was needed for children to play and for us to hold events such as the annual village BBQ. Prior to the creation of the Doorstep Green we had to close the road to hold our annual BBQ and children played in the street (skateboarding and football), people were convinced, given how fast traffic moves through our village, that sooner or later there would be a serious accident or fatality.
The Annual Village Meeting agreed and we were fortunate to get a number of grants to create the Doorstep Green. The entire village was informed and agreed and the project moved forward with the help of just about everyone in the village. Around 2,000 volunteer hours were recorded on the project.
As Redlingfield has a Parish Meeting rather than a Parish Council – and therefore is unable to own recreational land – we set up a not-for-profit limited company to own the Doorstep Green on behalf of the village (Redlingfield Village Amenities Ltd). The area continues to be looked after and maintained by volunteers and has turned out to be extremely popular.
Belatedly we realised that it is far too small. In a more recent questionnaire sent to everyone in the village and asking what we should do next, 97% of the village asked for the Doorstep Green to be improved and made larger. The same questionnaire asked if the village wanted to see the village church restored and updated to make it a useable community space for the village (loos, a kitchen, better heating etc), the number who said they did was only slightly lower at 95%. The questionnaire was sent to every person in the village and there was a 98% response rate.
We then started fundraising and raised the funds (raising £25,000, in donations) and purchased an additional two acres to enlarge the original Doorstep Green.
Since then a further private donation of £10,000 has been received and fundraising has continued to enable highway access and parking for the site. Eg Tony’s incredible walk along the Suffolk Coastal path raising over £2,000. Work is ongoing on this project.
The Church of St Andrew
Interestingly enough, the Redlingfield Parish Meeting was originally created some 42 years ago in order to come together as a village to support and save the village church.
The Church of St Andrew is a significant historic building, it is of Anglo-Saxon origin, recorded in the Domesday Book (when this was a Viking village called Radinghefelda), Grade 2* listed and on the site of a Benedictine Nunnery, which is also Scheduled Ancient Monument.
The church is the responsibility of Redlingfield Parochial Church Council (PCC). This is a separate organisation that has nothing to do with Redlingfield Parish Meeting. The PCC also organises fundraising events to maintain and improve the church eg Cheese & Wine, quizzes and Flower Festivals.
The local vicar Michael Womack asked the Redlingfield Annual Village Meeting for help with a project to get the church roof repaired. The meeting agreed to do everything they could to help the PCC secure the funding and repair the church.
Because the Parish clerk has a project management background, she agreed to lead on the project on behalf of the PCC. The project was very successful, the new roof and rainwater goods cost some £95,000, with external funding (Government grants) being obtained for some 90%of the expenditure and the PCC contributing the rest. Redlingfield Parish Meeting did not make a financial contribution to the project.