Ashley Parish Council comprises of a Chairperson, a clerk and four Parish Councillors (although the full Council would ideally have six Councillors). The Councillors are all from different backgrounds and the aim is for the council to represent a cross-section of the community. If you would like to get involved then please get in touch with the Parish Clerk.

Who are the Councillors?

Olive Oakavee

Olive Oakavee (Parish Chair)

I am married with 5 adult children and 3 grandchildren. I have lived in Ashley since 1995 and before that I lived in Hong Kong for 20 year.

I joined the Parish Council in 1999 and was elected to the Chair in 2002, I stepped down in 2005 and resigned from the Council in May 2007 but in September 2007 I was persuaded to re-join the Council.

I became co-editor of About Ashley in 2000.

Hannah Day

Councillor Hannah Day

I joined the Parish Council to offer my help to improve/maintain the village assets etc for all the villagers and try and set an example to younger members of the village to get involved as well.

Previously I had lived in Stradishall for 26 years with my parents before moving to Ashley with my husband in 2012.

Professionally I am a collections and credit control manager for a finance company Monday to Friday and also teach swimming at Newmarket Leisure Centre on Saturdays. I enjoy walking, DIY, gardening and also baking.

Sarah Howell

Councillor Sarah Howell

I am an accountant by training and was a partner at Ernst & Young in London before ‘retiring’ with my family to Ashley in 2008. Using my accounting and corporate governance experience, I am now non executive Chairman of Ipswich Building Society and also of The International Exhibition Co-operative Wine Society (“The Wine Society”). I am also a trustee of two pension funds. In my spare time (!) I ride, play netball for a local team, am a Trustee of the Ashley Pavilion and the Speedwatch co-ordinator for Ashley.

My husband, Jonathan, grew up in Newmarket. We have two daughters.

Since moving to Ashley, I have been enjoying getting to know people in the village and feeling like part of a community.

Kevin Dadds (Parish Clerk)

Councillor Marina Almond

County Councillor Matthew Shuter

Mr R Fidler (Footpath Warden)

What is a Parish Council?

A Parish is the most local tier of administration and the first tier of democratic government. There are two sorts of parishes whose boundaries do not always coincide. These are: The ecclesiastical parishes centred on an Anglican Church with a parochial church council chaired by the vicar or rector; and: the civil parishes that are part of local administration.

A civil parish is an independent, local democratic unit for villages and smaller towns and for the suburbs of the main urban areas. Each parish has a council which is a small local authority. Its councillors are elected for four years at a time in the same way as other councils. The next local elections for Ashley Parish Council will be in May 2015 and our Council comprises a maximum of 7 councillors with at least 3 councillors required to be present at Council Meetings when decisions are to be taken.

By-elections may be held to fill vacancies occurring between elections or alternatively new councillors may be co-opted on to the Council following the prescribed advertising of the vacancy. The Council chooses a Chairman each year from within their number. What powers do Parish Councils have to do things for their areas? Parish Councils have more formal powers to do things than are often suspected. Because all villages are different their councils can have a variety of different responsibilities. They can include:- monitoring street lighting, Management of play areas and recreation grounds, cemeteries, village greens and footpaths. Safeguarding public rights-of-way, provision and maintenance of bus shelters, public seats and allotments; Provision of halls and meeting places, car parks, public conveniences, village newsletters, guides or leaflets for newcomers to the village. Appointment of charitable trustees and school governors. Prosecution of noisemakers and litterbugs. Parish Councils also have the power to improve the quality of village life by spending sums of money, which, in their opinion, are in the interests of the parish or its inhabitants.

Whilst the District Council determines virtually all planning applications, the Parish Council is a statutory consultee on all new applications located within its area including roads and footpaths. it is also invited to put the parish’s case at public enquiries. The Councillors who make up the council provide their time and services entirely voluntarily, the only paid employee being the Parish Clerk. Parish Councils are becoming more important because district councils have become larger and more remote. The recent cuts in funding at county and district levels have meant that more responsibilities are being passed down to parish level. The Parish Council is therefore vital to the smooth running of a village and additionally, gives it a voice in all matters of concern to parishioners.

Parish Council meetings are open to the public and every resident is entitled to be present throughout to witness the discussions that take place. Parishioners can also address the Council on matters of concern in the Public Meeting held at the beginning of every council meeting. However, a Council can only be truly effective when parishioners are prepared to get involved and participate in the process. For example, a Council without a full complement of councillors is weakened because its decisions may not fully reflect local opinion and its views are likely to carry less weight with higher authorities. For this reason, it is hoped that the current vacancies on Ashley Parish Council may soon be filled.