Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

The councillors and staff at Stone Parish Council would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

As the year draws to a close, we take a moment to reflect on what a year 2022 has been.

2022 will always be remembered for the sad passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Throughout her record-breaking 70-year reign, Her Majesty did not falter in her devotion and selfless commitment to the United Kingdom. Her remarkable sense of duty, humility and poise serve as a shining example for all of us involved in public service.

As a tribute to Her Majesty, we have planted trees across Stone Parish with the first being planted by the War Memorial in Stone Recreation Ground. Members of the public attended the tree planting event and helped with the planting of the tree by laying compost from the flowers that were left at the War Memorial following her passing. These trees will form part of the Queen’s Green Canopy, creating a living legacy with over a million trees planted in Her Majesty’s name. These legacies are testament to her leadership and will endorse her place in history as an iconic and inspirational head of state. She will be greatly missed.

2022 has been another eventful year for Stone Parish Council with several achievements being accomplished. The successful referendum of the Neighbourhood Plan back in May 2022, with support of 90%, was a huge achievement for Stone Parish. The Neighbourhood Plan now forms part of the Statutory Development Framework for Dartford Borough and all planning applications in the Stone Neighbourhood Area are determined in accordance with the Stone Parish Neighbourhood Plan.

The successful result is the culmination of a process that formally started in April 2015, when a steering group of Neighbourhood Plan Directors were appointed. This group of directors worked tirelessly since then to develop a plan that sought to shape any future development in Stone so that it benefits the parish and focuses on local priorities. An adopted plan also generates additional community infrastructure levy funds for the parish council to enable it to invest directly back into the parish to fund priorities, rather than see this money spent elsewhere.

As you will have seen we also have exciting plans to develop Stone Recreation Ground for the benefit of all residents. This represents the biggest undertaking by the council since the Recreation Ground was established in the 1930’s, which is felt needed to ensure it is fit for purpose to serve the additional parish growth we will see in coming years. The recent public consultation demonstrated the significant support for the proposed development, and planning applications on the final details are in the process of being submitted with a view to building/renovation work taking place in 2023. Once plans are finalised a timeline will be published to all residents for when the work will be taking place.

The council has also run several events throughout the year for residents. One of the highlights of the year was the Jubilee celebrations that took place on Stone Recreation Ground. It was delightful to see so many residents making use of our green space and enjoying each other’s company following a challenging two years for residents where many people have felt isolated with the national lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also had our programme of summer activities and most recently hosted a Christmas Market at The Claire Tiltman Centre, the first of what we hope to be many community events at our newest centre.

We are very aware that for some residents the rise in living costs is creating many additional financial stresses. The council has created a page on its website for residents to help them understand how they can access the help they might need. We also ran several events for the community and would encourage residents to make the most of these.

Our council offices close today (Wednesday 21st December) and will reopen on Tuesday 3rd January. As we move into 2023 the council will continue to move forward with its strategic plan that outlines our commitment to providing a safe and healthy community, protecting, and enhancing our environment and providing positive and respected leadership.

A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!