NALC COUNCIL SPOTLIGHT: Horley Town Council
Horley is a large town in Surrey and will continue to grow over the coming years with major developments planned ahead. With excellent rail, road and airport links it makes it a popular area to live and work particularly with its access to and from London, South Coast, and Gatwick Airport.
The council is acutely aware of the need to find a balance between meeting community expectation and budgets so is continuously looking at doing things differently. Added local pressures are, for example, the closure of the Borough Council’s Help Shop, the gradual reduction in local authority services, and the needed revitalisation of its town centre. With these in mind, Horley Town Council has issued a new five-year business plan to meet such challenges.
The council gives good value for money to our local residents with a lower council tax than many other similarly sized towns. They have also been able to reduce the effect of double taxation recently by obtaining a significant grant from Reigate and Banstead. As well as managing its own local parks, recreational areas and community halls, with its small number of staff, it also provides a one-stop shop for all enquiries, championing residents’ issues with other authorities and outside agencies. Two other grants, both exceeding £10k, were received for its recreation ground in 2015 going towards a new skate park and new outdoor fitness equipment.
The council is very active in participating in or organising local events annually such as St George’s Day Fayre, Horley Carnival, Remembrance Day Parade and Service, Councillors’ Christmas Hospitality and Carol Service. Its Horley in Bloom Competition has rapidly expanded with its affiliate events such as a photographic competition, Horley in spring and encouraging local schools to enter. The council has set up focus groups for projects such as its new allotments site and skate park replacement. A liaison group will also be considered by the council to replace the recently disbanded police neighbourhood panel.
The council has embraced in new technology, steered by its communications sub-committee with a vastly improved website, monthly e-newsletters sent to a fast growing circulation list, an interactive annual town guide, and a dedicated booking system for hall hire and football. With its active social media channels, the council encourages feedback through a variety of channels including Twitter, Street Life and Facebook. The new website site is fully compatible for mobile and tablet viewing.
The council continued success in the South & South East In Bloom competition, where they have won two Silver Gilt awards (town centre and Horley Recreation Ground) for the past four years. The new allotments in the NE Sector, acquired via a s106 agreement in 2015, has enabled plot holders to do amazing things in quite a short period of time and was reflected in their winning entries in Horley in Bloom. The Horley Recreation Ground achieved success as Partner of the Year in the Fields in Trust local councils category in 2014/15.