To consider the purpose and effectiveness of the current Best Kept Village Competition and provide a recommendation on its future.
The Council’s Corporate Plan 2020 to 2023 contained the key priorities of ensuring that the district is a clean and pleasant place to live and managing our finances and assets effectively. The Best Kept Village competition gave a sense of pride of local residents by maintaining and showcasing the areas in which they live. Prior to 2019, Countryside Charity, formally known as the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), acted as agents for the Council in the organisation of a district wide annual Best Kept Village competition.
Participation in the competition was funded by the Council at an annual cost in the region of £3,500. Villages who were successfully judged as being the best kept had opportunity to participate in the national Best Kept Village competition. This arrangement came to an end in 2019 due to lack of resource in the Lincolnshire branch of CPRE. Since 2019, the Best Kept Village competition was delivered in-house by the Council under the brief that villages with a population of less than 5,000 were to be automatically enrolled in the competition and judged. Villages with a population of over 5,000 were excluded from the competition.
The costs for the current financial year equated to £5,973 which was made up of the cash prize fund, gold litter bins, framed certificates, Officer time and mileage expense. The current cost of living crisis and the impact this was having upon many organisations (including the Council), presented an opportunity to explore how the competition was delivered going forward to improve the service provided and reduce the financial commitment of the Council.
One Member queried as to why communities were not consulted on the idea of incorporating the competition into the Council’s Annual SK Community Awards scheme to allow more of a democratic weight to the decision made.
It was confirmed that the Best Kept Village Awards was currently in place and was being incorporated, which allowed the competition to be open to all villages rather than restricted.
One Member suggested awarding further recognition of a best kept village with a plaque in the grounds for a permanent display.
It was highlighted that not all parts of the District were within villages. It was requested as to whether urban communities could be included.
Concern was raised on the verification process of submitted photographs for the application of the best kept village.
The panel would consider all applications/photographs submitted and shortlist certain villages. The judges would then visit the short-listed villages in person to identify the winning village.
One Member emphasised on the involvement of the Parish Councils to recognize the possible achievements.
It was highlighted that Bourne were not qualified for best kept villiage due to the population size. However, Bourne received an award for ‘Britain in Bloom’ area in East Midlands.
It was proposed, seconded and AGREED that:
A change to the parameters of the SK Volunteer Awards to incorporate the Best Kept Village competition into the awards from financial year 2023/2024 rebranded as the Best Kept Village Community Award.