Quorn - National council of the Year

At the annual dinner of the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), held at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston on Saturday 15th June, John Hutchinson, Chairman of Quorn Parish Council was presented with the award for National Council of the Year – 2002.

The award from the National Association is sponsored by AON Insurance and Quorn was voted the best Parish Council out of over 40 entrants from Councils in England and Wales. The runner-up was Waters Upton Parish Council in Shropshire.

This follows on the village’s previous successes as Leicestershire’s Best Kept Village two years running and leading in 2000 to the Daily Telegraph/Calor Gas National Environmental Village of the Year award.

The judging panel was particularly impressed with the following aspects of Quorn Parish Council’s work:

The Council has published and regularly updates ‘A Plan for Quorn’, the Council’s policies and plans for the future, arrived after consultation with the community. It covers development and planning issues, conservation and restoration, highways and traffic, community facilities, environmental issues, recreation and leisure, and business. It is delivered free to every household and a copy is displayed on the central notice board.

The environment is closely monitored by the Council. Although the central areas are mostly urbanised, there are a number of ecologically important sites in, and surrounding the village. These are listed and the Council and volunteers work together to ensure that they are sensitively managed and plans and policies exist for their maintenance and preservation.The Council relies on information supplied by volunteer tree, footpath and heritage wardens.

The centre of the village is a conservation area and the Council has projects in hand to restore original features such as granite walls, wrought iron fences and churchyard gates, period lighting columns and paved or cobbled lands. Old ‘jitty’ or alleyway names have been resurrected and commemorated with stylish new nameplates. The parish and Baptist churches have been floodlit, the capital and running costs met by the Parish Council.

A greening project in the conservation area is ongoing. Projects to date include movable planters and permanent beds sited on formerly unkempt areas in the village and the refurbishment of the central War Memorial garden with prize money from a Charnwood Council sponsored Enviromental competition. The Parish Council also judges an annual Best Kept Garden competition and awards prizes.

Quorn has a lack of affordable housing for young people and families wanting to live or remain in the village. The Parish Council has sought and received outline planning permission to develop part of some publicly owned land in the centre of the village for this purpose. East Midlands Rural Housing has completed a survey of housing need in the village in conjunction with the Parish Council.

For younger people, the Council owns and maintains a central, large park with a newly refurbished children’s playground, and basketball practice ground. A half-pipe ramp for skateboarding and cycling has recently been constructed and a youth shelter has been built alongside it. These have proven extremely popular.

The Council has been involved in a campaign to prevent housing development on the village cricket ground and has now bought the ground and will retain it as a cricket pitch and amenity space.

The Council has part-funded the award-winning village magazine ‘The Quorndon’ produced by volunteers and distributed free to every household in the village. The magazine is now self-supporting from its advertising revenue.

The Quorn village website is at www.quorndon.com . This contains pages on all aspects of life in Quorn, including a major section on the Parish Council. The site is run by two volunteers partly financed by a grant from the Council.

There is a new parish notice board in a heritage style in front of the main parade of shops and a Millennium Map commissioned to depict Quorn’s heritage and provide a current street guide has been installed at The Cross.

The Council sponsors an annual Art Exhibition and Craft Exhibition at which local artists are encouraged to display their work to the public. The village clubs occasional in need of financial assistance can apply to the Council.

The Council has formed a sculpture garden adjacent to the churchyard and other stone work around the village. Much of this is by final year students at Loughborough University, using stone recovered from a demolished mill chimney in the village.