Nine years of achievement for Henfield group

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The Henfield Community Partnership (HCP) held its AGM on 11th September 2014.

The Chairman, Tony Jackson, in presenting the Directors’ report, highlighted a number of items of particular interest from the work in the year ending 31 March 2014.

He reported on another successful year, with many important achievements, saying that “the ninth year of the Partnership has continued the success of previous years, bringing about benefits to the local community that were likely not to have been achieved either so quickly by others or at all. Much of our success results from continuing to have a close and understanding relationship with the Parish Council and being focussed on delivering actions, not words.”

Tony referred to the Henfield Hub, the community website set up nearly 2 years ago. He said:“Since then, there have been over 51,000 visitors, and there are now around 500 registered users – very impressive figures, demonstrating the appeal of what is acknowledged as being a cutting edge community website.”

Also by working with the Partnership’s Action for Older People’s Group, a computer club was set up to help, particularly older people, to get online and become computer literate; this has proved to be a great success with 39 members and 17 volunteer tutors since being started last October.

The Chairman referred to several aspects of the HCP’s work being focussed on helping Henfield to evolve in a sustainable way. What constitutes a sustainable development is a topic of much debate, one where common sense and logic seem often to carry little weight.

Tony said: “During the year we worked closely with other groups and Horsham District Council to prevent planning permission being granted to what the local community felt was an inappropriate development of 160 homes by Barratt Homes.

“We were all astonished and very disappointed when the Inspector upheld the appeal but, with HDC seeking a judicial review, all is not yet lost.”

He added that: “This illustrates the importance of putting in place a Neighbourhood Plan to reduce the chance of future speculative developments being allowed; preparation of such a plan for Henfield, led by the Parish Council, has been underway for some time, and a number of the Partnership Members have been heavily involved in the work.”

Other activities mentioned by Tony Jackson included: work undertaken by Hidden Britain, funded by a grant from Awards for All, to develop Henfield’s visitor strategy; a review currently in progress to see how Henfield’s Day Centre, under threat of closure by WSCC, could be made better use of; and work about to start on a new four year community action plan.

Also at the meeting, elections were held for the three Board Directors, together with volunteer members to the Management Committee.

In his closing remarks, Tony thanked all the volunteers for their hard work and organisations like the Parish Council for their support which have contributed so much to the work of the Partnership, showing the valuable role the HCP continues to play in the life of Henfield – amounting at the very least to more than half a million pounds since 2005, based on the value of volunteers’ time and grants received.

Report contributed by Tony Jackson, chairman.