The team started to form in Spring 2015, when Kelvedon Parish Council (KPC) asked for volunteers to help develop a Neighbourhood Plan (NP). Around the same time, KPC’s application to make a plan on behalf of the parish was approved by Braintree District Council (BDC). Since then, some people have left the team and new volunteers have joined. At various times, we have had up to 44 people involved regularly or occasionally, helping with tasks from delivering surveys to handing out leaflets and carrying out research online.
KPC delegated producing the NP and engaging with the community to a team of residents. The KNP Team is made up of volunteers who are not elected. There is a distinct difference between the powers of KNP team members and members of KPC. The KNP team cannot vote to directly influence any aspect of the NP. All comments and reports published by the KNP are based on evidence and not members’ opinions. Whereas, KPC members do have voting rights on planning, finance and other council matters as part of their KPC responsibilities. The KNP team will produce the NP and KPC will control spending, oversee compliance with protocol and make the final NP on behalf of Kelvedon.
A main function of the team is to collect evidence from the community and outside agencies such as Environment, Highways and BDC to prove specific needs or issues. Engaging with the community through our website, social media, consultations and events is also a key part of our activity. We must also comply with the constitution and protocols agreed with KPC and provide an accurate record of our activities including meetings, spending and contact with stakeholders. These records include reports and documents that will ultimately form part of the NP.
The evidence is all that counts in terms of the NP. Any recommendations we make will be based on the evidence we have collected. If a KNP team member has a personal view on a planning or infrastructure issue they can express their opinions as a resident in any consultation, just the same as any other resident can. If they feel their views are completely at odds with the evidence the NP presents, they can choose not to be involved in that topic or in the group as a whole.
The KNP team does not get to vote for one option over another on any decision whether planning or infrastructure. All decisions are based on evidence gathered from community surveys and other outside agencies. The only influence an individual team member can have is as a resident, giving their opinion in a consultation that is open to all residents. For that reason, where an individual team member lives would not affect any decision made by KNP. Our team members come from all over the village and we welcome anyone from any part of Kelvedon.
Everyone that has volunteered really cares about Kelvedon for one reason or another. That passion and caring is the driver for their volunteering and is what makes them give their time. Some members, give huge chunks of time unpaid, which they wouldn't do if they didn't care. Having no opinion or being completely neutral is not a requirement and given the way the team works, it’s fine to have opinions and still contribute to the NP efforts. The final check on the Plan, will be carried out by an independent planning inspector. He/she will decide whether we have been objectively neutral and followed the evidence available to us. If the plan is found to be deficient the inspector will return it for amendment before it can be adopted.