In a stunning victory for local democracy, Pannal has been given the go-ahead for its own parish council, a landmark moment not only for the village itself but the Harrogate district.
It’s believed to be the first time Harrogate Borough Council has granted a request for a new body of this kind since it itself was set up in the major upheavals of The Local Government Act of 1972.
Elections for the first parish councillors in Pannal are now expected to be held this May.
If anyone has been instrumental in securing ‘Pannalonians’ a new stronger voice in their own affairs, it’s been the dynamic Pannal Village Society which has rallied and reflected local sentiment from the start.
PVS committee member Howard West, 65, a retired sales and marketing manager, said the victory showed the strength of feeling in Pannal, which is dissected by the busy A61 road to Leeds, and is closely linked to Burn Bridge and Walton Park..
“The village society is absolutely delighted by the news, as are the majority of the people in the village. Thanks to people like our chairman Peter Stretton who has been a real stalwart, we’ve got there.
“Our local borough councillors have always done the best they could for the village but we always felt Pannal’s interests fell between two stools.”
He added that it hadn't turned out to be quite as straightforward as they had anticipated.
Howard said: "At one meeting, a member of the village society produced an article from the Sunday Times and said it was easy to set up a parish council!"
Pannal’s lengthy battle was prompted partly by fears over the indiscriminate nature of new developments in the village and its affect on traffic.
The starting pistol came in 2014 when the Government Planning Inspector rejected the borough council’s plan for development across the district in light of new central government targets for house building.
Under the guidance of the village society, residents decided to to take a long look at the issues affecting the village. The result was their own Community-Led Plan for Pannal.
The next step was to decide whether the village wanted to have a Pannal Parish Council.
Finally, a petition was raised for a parish council in July 2014 with 250 signatures to serve as an application to Harrogate Borough Council as required by law.
Although it’s taken nearly two years since then to win their battle, villagers say the borough council has been supportive from the very start.
And another member of the PVS, Robin Barlow said he expected the new parish council to get to work quickly.
“We are hoping the new parish council will hit the ground running. The work has been in done in advance in our Community-Led Plan and residents have already been sounded out about their worries.”
Howard West said the new body would have the statutory authority the PVS had lacked.
“Having our own parish council means the people of the village will now be able to work solely for the good of the village.”