Jackie came to Kent in 1981 and moved to Brabourne nine years ago. When a vacancy arose on Smeeth Parish Council she was invited by one of the Councillors to consider joining. She found this idea daunting but after going along to several meetings to see what was involved, she welcomed an opportunity to become part of a team providing a service for the community. Jackie has now been a councillor for about five years.
Jackie is strongly aware that the job of the Parish Council is to represent the interests of the whole community and feels that the diversity of local councils is their strength. Each councillor has his or her own contribution to make based on their own experience, knowledge and strengths and it is these qualities that permit the Parish Council to be perhaps more sensitive to the needs of the community than the larger authorities. She says: “Understanding the needs of different groups in the community (such as young and elderly people) is an important part of the role of a councillor. Occasionally a conflict of interest may arise between different groups which requires sensitive judgement. Making difficult decisions in an open and reasoned way is something that local councils need to do well.”
Smeeth Parish Council led the formation of the Smeeth Cluster Village Caretaker Scheme, a Joint Community Project responsible for financing and employing a full time Village Caretaker (see article above) who undertakes tasks in the villages of Smeeth, Brabourne, Brook and Mersham previously done by Ashford Borough Council and Kent County Council, the day to day running of which falls to the Smeeth Parish Clerk.
Jackie says: “The introduction of the role of Village Caretaker has been very successful and all four villages involved have greatly benefited by the provision of an ‘in house’ village infrastructure and environmental maintenance to a high standard.”