Ash Parish, in Surrey, is one of the most heavily-populated rural parishes within the Borough of Guilford. The parish is located in the extreme west of the Borough and covers 4 square miles, extending north to south along the River Blackwater. It is well-maintained and equipped by Ash Parish Council, whose aim is to provide the residents of Ash with high-quality services as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.
Inputting all of our assets into one place has saved us a considerable amount of time, energy and money. By using Parish Online we can plot our own assets in real time, deal with problems instantaneously whilst providing detailed maps of the local area to councillors. We will also be using these maps in our neighbour planning. When we want to know where something is we print off a map, it’s as simple as that. We now have the tools to take ownership of our local assets.Graham Bidwell, Administrator, Ash Parish Council
In recent years, Ash Parish has grown into an expansive residential area with a population that could soon reach around 18,000. The increasing population and subsequent urban development has impacted upon Ash Parish Council; putting a strain on its limited resources to manage accumulating assets.
Historically, Ash Parish Council has had to rely on Guildford Borough Council to update its records and provide maps with information regarding its assets. Being dependant on Guildford Borough Council had many drawbacks; work by Ash Parish Council could often be delayed due to staff resources at Guildford Borough Council – resulting in significant costs in terms of time and money to both councils.
Amongst the range of growing assets, Ash Parish Council owns over 600 street lights, and has identified that mutual benefits could be gained through controlling its own stock of lighting within the parish. It was established that by gaining access to geographic information, Ash Parish Council would be able to identify the location of individual street lights to maintain and repair them as necessary. The next step was to source geographic data, which would be simple to use, accessible and affordable.
Working with Guildford Borough Council, Ash Parish Council signed up for the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) and used Parish Online – a web mapping tool for parish councils in the UK – to access high-quality geographic data provided by Ordnance Survey. Once Ash Parish Council started to use this tool, it quickly identified a significant advantage – in addition to managing street lights, it could also oversee its entire assets, producing a comprehensive online log, which included property, local green spaces, sports grounds, cemeteries, parish notice boards, bins and bus stops – this exceeded all expectations.
This tool has provided Ash Parish Council with detailed mapping, meaning it is no longer necessary to depend upon Guildford Borough Council for assistance. Through Parish Online, highly-detailed and accurate Ordnance Survey data is immediately accessible. Processes are now less complex and time consuming; for example, reporting faulty/damaged lighting – and this in turn contributes to provide a well-lit and safe town for the community.
- Low cost partner solution has created savings for Ash Parish Council.
- Parish Online and geographic information has given Ash Parish Council independence in managing its local assets.
- Ash Parish Council can now print detailed maps for councillors and contractors, providing information on demand when it is needed.
- Amongst many other benefits, geographic information has assisted in providing a safe town for the community; for example, well-maintained street lighting helps reduce crime and improves public safety.
- By having direct access to Land Registry information, Ash Parish Council saves around £100 per year in fees. More noteworthy, the ‘man hours’ redeemed equates to considerable savings of time and money.