Welcome to the website of Hughenden Parish Counci
Hughenden Parish is situated in the heart of the Chilterns. The parish contains eight villages and hamlets - Naphill, Walter's Ash, North Dean, Bryants Bottom, Hughenden Valley, Cryers Hill, Great Kingshill and Widmer End. In some cases, villages and hamlets are served by more than one Parish Council.
The Parish Council consists of 15 Councillors, who serve approximately 3,500 households, a population of approximately 9,000 people.
Statement issued by Hughenden Parish Council concerning lack of compliance with the Local Government Act 1972 section 6.11 – 6.15
Co-option to fill a casual vacancy
The Local Government Act 1972 sets out the procedure by which a Councillor may be co-opted to fill a casual vacancy. In summary, the process is as follows:
- After a vacancy has been declared by the council, it must be publicly notified (by means of a public notice) as soon as possible
- If a poll is claimed by 10 electors within 14 days of the public notification of the vacancy, then a bye-election takes place within 60 days of the notice of the vacancy
- If no poll is claimed in time, the council fills the vacancy by co-option as soon as practical
- A bye-election may not be claimed within six months of the day when
the Councillor whose office is declared vacant would ordinarily have retired
In November 2019, following an unsuccessful co-option, council received a Freedom of Information request concerning the co-option process.On investigation it became apparent that since February 2017 part of the statutory procedure had not been correctly implemented i.e. the serving of the correct public notice giving parishioners the opportunity to call a bye-election.
Since the last elections in May 2015 there have been several co-options to the council.The net impact is that in November 2019, it became clear that 7 of the co-opted councilors had not been co-opted in full compliance with the Local Government Act 1972.
The council immediately sought legal advice from specialist independent solicitors, Wycombe District Council and both county and national Local Government Associations.There appears to be scant legal precedent.Legal opinion is that if the co-option procedure was not correctly followed then the individuals concerned are not lawfully councillors.
The current position is that Hughenden Parish Council now consists of five members, four returned in the 2015 elections (Cllrs Gould, Kearey, Nicholls & Waterton) and one properly co-opted in 2015 (Cllr Gieler).
At full complement, Hughenden Parish Council is 15 members (quorum being one third of full complement).Section 6.13 of the Local Government Act 1972 states that no co-options may take place within 6 months of an election.
Elections for the new Buckinghamshire Council will take place in May 2020, May 2025 and then every 4 years.Town and parish elections will coincide with the elections to Buckinghamshire Council.
The next parish council election will therefore be held in May 2020.The council will therefore continue to operate with 5 members as a quorate council until the next election in May 2020. Council will request that Wycombe District Council enact Section 91 of the Local Government Act 1972 which allows the principal authority to make an Order to draft in additional members to the parish council for an interim period.
Information concerning the May elections will be posted on the parish council website (www.hughendenparishcouncil.org.uk) and on council notice boards.It is hoped that parishioners will put themselves forward for election to ensure a full complement of councilors.
The Council and Clerk wish to apologise to parishioners and those individuals directly affected by this lack of compliance with statutory procedure in the co-option process to fill casual vacancies.
Issued on 14th January 2020.
For further information and enquiries, please contact:
Clerk to the Council
Parish Council Membership & Operation
The Council are continuing to investigate the possibility that, due to the non circulation of the correct Casual Vacancy Notices, councillors who joined the Council from 2017 onwards were not co-opted in accordance with the law.
Appropriate legal advice on this is currently being sought.
The Council would like to reassure residents that it remains quorate, fully functional and able to carry out its statutory duties and there will be no disruption to the provision of council services.
An updated statement will be published after the Full Council meeting to be held on 14th January 2020.
19th December 2019
Urban Devolved Services
To report an issue with urban grass verges, hedges, footways or street furniture, please email email@example.com or telephone Hughenden Parish Council Office 01494 715296.
To find out more about Urban Devolved Services, please open and read the document below or contact the Clerk for further information or to clarify areas of responsibility.
Devolution to Local Government .pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [381.2 KB]
Devolved Services Update – February 2019
Work currently being undertaken to improve safety on the footpath at Valley Road Hughenden Valley is being done by Lowther Ltd on behalf of Hughenden Parish Council as part of council’s Urban Devolved Services Agreement with Buckinghamshire County Council.
The work involves ‘siding out’ of the footpath to return the footpath to its original width. This is clearance of soil and vegetation which has accumulated over many years and in which weeds and grass have taken root.
The work also involves cutting back vegetation obscuring road signs such as the large directional sign opposite Old Stocks and ensuring that homeowners cut back any overhanging vegetation which may be obstructing the footpath. Over the past 12 months I have issued 7 formal notices to householders on Valley Road requesting that they act to remove vegetation overhanging the footpath. Most homeowners are happy to comply with the notice not requiring any other action on behalf of council.
This type of highway maintenance used to be carried out by Buckinghamshire County Council. Over the past 10 years, due to increasing pressure on budget, BCC was no longer able to carry out this type of work and in 2016 the county council offered parish and town councils the opportunity to take on responsibility for ‘Urban Devolved Services’.
On 1st April 2016 Hughenden Parish Council and Buckinghamshire County Council entered into an ‘Urban Devolved Services Agreement’. The parish council received funding of just over £11,000 per annum during 2016, 2017 and 2018 to carry out this service. Funding from BCC beyond this period is uncertain due to unitary changes but the parish council remain committed to providing devolved services otherwise safety may be compromised, and the appearance of Hughenden Parish would change noticeably. The parish council contribute to funding from Precept to increase the annual devolved services budget to £18,000. This sum covers:
- grass verge cutting (usually 6 cuts per year/weather dependant) within 30 mph areas and some 40 mph areas (e.g.’ wide grass verge at Warrendene Road)
- siding out of footpaths
- weed control and spraying
- cutting back of hedges overhanging footpaths and serving formal notice letters
- cutting back vegetation around street signs and furniture
- washing street signs and furniture
- maintenance of street signs and furniture (e.g. village entry gates)
- granting permission for charity event signage
- removal of unauthorised charity event signage and fly posters
- clearance of Rights of Way
Considering the cost of grass verge cutting (approx. £2,000/cut) within a semi-rural parish such as Hughenden there is limited budget remaining for the other devolved service activities. It is worth noting that the only devolved service activity which is a statutory requirement is to keep street signs visible. The other activities increase safety, appearance and enjoyment of the parish but are not a legal requirement upon councils. Hughenden Parish Council is currently working to improve services for parishioners through the delivery of the devolved services scheme.
Please note that the section of Valley Road from the bottom of Cryers Hill to High Wycombe (40 & 50 mph zone) remains the responsibility of Buckinghamshire County Council as does the section of Coombe Lane (40 mph zone) between Hughenden Valley and Naphill. Buckinghamshire County Council has agreed to side out the footpath from Cryers Hill to Hughenden Valley. The date for this work will be confirmed shortly.
Jill Armshaw, Deputy Clerk, Hughenden Parish Council (24/02/2019)
Transfer of Parish Land
Latest update available under our Transfer of Parish Land link.