Skip to main content

Henfield Parish Council Works Team

25th March 2024

With central government cut-backs, local authority budgets have been eroded over the past few years, meaning that some of the less crucial services (and sadly some of the crucial ones, but that’s a different article) just don’t get done. Henfield Parish Council made a conscious decision to pick up on some of these areas, knowing the importance of a clean, tidy and well-maintained village. Keeping litter off the streets means less litter is thrown; keeping graffiti in check means less antisocial graffiti appearing, and keeping a place feeling loved really makes local people feel genuinely proud of their community.

The team of three Parish Council Works Officers tasked with keeping our village looking picture perfect are Dick Nye, Paul Hopgood and Robin Wadey. They’re all part time, all very practical and all love working outside. Dick has been a Works Officer for 12 years and leads the team, Robin for five years (he used to be a social worker) and Paul is the newbie at 18 months, he used to work in garden maintenance and has lived in Henfield his whole life. I met with Dick to find out more about their day-to-day tasks.

“It’s a pretty hands-on role,” said Dick. “It’s interesting and varied, too. Although the paths and hedge clearance are generally the responsibility of West Sussex County Council, they don’t have capacity to provide as much maintenance as they used to, which could leave many of our footpaths and twittens overgrown. We strike a fine balance between letting nature take its course (and in the Year of Biodiversity this is a huge priority) and making sure places are accessible and passable safely. If a footpath is overgrown it could mean a wheelchair user or someone with a pushchair is unable to access it, and it can be very dangerous if the user is forced to go on the road instead.”

You’ll often find the Works Officers clearing pavements and footpaths, or mowing areas of grass verges to help road visibility, and looking after newly-planted trees and wildflower areas. Sometimes, if a tree is down over the Downslink or across a twitten, they have to bring in some heavier machinery (the best part of the job!), and sometimes they take on bigger projects alongside Horsham District Council, like the re-fencing and clearance of the Tanyard.

They also work closely with organisations like the Conservation Group and Commons Committee to coppice areas for environmental reasons, they have the safety training to use heavy machinery and chainsaws. Frustratingly, at times they also have to clear fly-tipped items from local beauty spots, an increasingly common occurrence.

Recently, a major project has been maintenance to the Cemetery hedge-line (if you walk through the Lych Gate, you’ll see the clearance work on your right). It’s come to light that this border houses around 40 unmarked graves of infants dating back to between 1882 and 1903. The Parish Council, in conjunction with Henfield Museum and St Peter’s Church, are planning to preserve this area and make sure the graves are cared for. Shortly, signs will be erected asking walkers to be respectful of the hedgerow, another good reason why dogs should always be kept on a lead in the cemetery.

Recently, Henfield Parish Council has had the help of the Community Payback team, organised by the court services. Dick and his team have lined up tasks for the team and their work is really appreciated.

They also take care of the four Henfield play parks; Chessbrook Green, Wantley, King’s Field and Rothery, making sure equipment is safe and the area is free of graffiti or glass. If you spot any problems with the play parks please do get in touch with the Parish Council immediately, especially if there is a safety issue, they will respond very quickly.

They support the brilliant team of part time and volunteer litter pickers in Henfield and they make sure the loos are opened, closed and kept clean, the same with the bus shelter. A local resident volunteers to close the bus shelter each night, a huge thank you to them for this kindness.

Weather can be an added challenge, if icy or snowy weather is forecast they do their best to grit the main paved areas in the high street early in the morning to help people to stay safe. Flooding is another of their ‘emergencies’ – a blocked drain can cause a flood, so they do what they can to help when the local authorities are overloaded. They also work proactively to make sure ditches are clear for flood prevention. It’s not their responsibility as such, but we are incredibly grateful for their common-sense approach to keeping our roads and pavements safe.

The Parish Office is also proactive at informing WSCC or HDC of any larger local issues and making sure Henfield is on the top of their priority list, the Works Officers often lend a helping hand, too. All in all, we have a great team working for us.

Next time you see Dick, Paul and Robin out and about, give them a wave and say thank you, they will be hard at work making Henfield a nicer place to live!