Bishopstoke is an unusual parish in that, whilst the parish has the fifth largest electorate of over 200 parishes in Hampshire, the Parish Council does not have direct responsibility for many of the community facilities often associated with parish councils.
To look into the reasons for this, we also have to look rather a long way back in history! Bishopstoke's long history is covered in depth elsewhere within this website. Here, we need look only briefly at the last century or so.
Before the coming of the railways, Bishopstoke was a small rural community, gathered around a crossing point over the River Itchen, with the old St Mary's church as its focal point. This, therefore, formed a natural ecclesiastical parish, the forerunner of the modern civil parish, the basic unit of modern government. The ecclesiastical parish once included what is now Fair Oak Parish and stretched from the Itchen in the west to what is now the B2177 at Lower Upham (a road that took its present form around 1840) in the east.
The coming of the railways changed the locality hugely, bringing industry and relatively dense residential development. One outcome was the growth of Eastleigh (originally just a farming hamlet) and the incorporation of Eastleigh and Bishopstoke Urban District Council, whose name is recorded for posterity in the masonry over the main door to "The Point" in Leigh Road - the old Town Hall. Civil Parish Councils were established in 1894 by Act of Parliament, but shortly after the need for a separate Bishopstoke civil parish probably became redundant and the Parish Council was wound up, hastened by circumstances such as the need for the installation at enormous expense of mains drainage and treatment works, an undertaking that was far beyond the means of a parish.
Thus, the community of Bishopstoke grew over a period of nearly a century without the benefit of its own Parish Council, until, in the mid 1990s, a group of Bishopstoke residents joined together to take the necessary statutory steps for the formation, or rather re-formation, in 1996, of a brand new Bishopstoke Parish Council.
But, by this time, Bishopstoke was already in essence fully developed, with community facilities such as the Memorial Hall and BCA Centre already managed by their own registered charities, and play and recreation areas owned and provided by Eastleigh Borough Council. So the new Parish Council would not have direct responsibility for these facilities, perhaps the most visible parish council activities in many communities.
Instead, therefore, Bishopstoke Parish Council has sought to bring benefits to its community via less obvious means. High amongst these is the constant, but often unseen, monitoring of development proposals within the Parish. As the planning authority for the area, Eastleigh Borough Council has a statutory duty to consult with the Parish Council on all planning applications relating to sites in the Parish. The Parish Council, through its Planning Committee, which meets twice per month, examines closely all such applications, in the context of the high level of local knowledge that Parish Councillors tend to have. All meetings of the Committee are open to the public, and the Committee regularly hears representations from neighbours who may be affected by proposals. The Parish Council's responses to planning consultations are therefore well informed and well reasoned, and can often influence the principle or the detail of development proposals.
If you would like to know more about projects taking place around Bishopstoke, please contact the Clerk.
Bishopstoke Parish Council also provides and services numerous facilities for the benefit of residents, including: -
In addition to these "tangible" benefits, the Parish Council provides support, through its Grant Aid programme, for many groups in the community. These grants may fund specific events and programmes, or give general support for the group concerned. Public facilities that have benefited include: -
And community groups that have benefited include: -
The Parish Council is also involved in a number of partnership programmes with other agencies, a good example being the ongoing programme of the Hampshire Youth Service in working with young people, which is jointly funded by the Parish Council, Eastleigh Borough Council and Hampshire County Council. The Parish Council also has funds set aside to assist with providing community recreation facilities at Brookfield Youth Facility in Bishopstoke and the restoration of Shears Mill at Riverside.