About West Wycombe Parish Council
In 1986 Lt. Col. Lesslie K Watson, a resident of West Wycombe for forty years, thought it would be a good idea if West Wycombe had its own Parish Council. It seems that there had been Parish Council here some 55 years previously. We are unsure of how it fell by the wayside, but two villages on either side of West Wycombe, Downley and Piddington, took the name, West Wycombe Parish Council, but it did not include West Wycombe!
Lesslie Watson organised a referendum and even though there was a low turn out to vote, it was clear that the residents wanted their own Parish Council to look after the interests of the area.
Once National Government ensured we filled all the criteria he applied to Wycombe District Council [now merged as part of Buckinghamshire Unitary Authority to get the name returned. Downley became a parish council in its own right, and Piddington joined with Wheeler End to form a parish council.
Lesslie encouraged people to stand for the parish council by inviting them to tea. The first election was on 7th of May 1987. 12 people stood for 7 positions as Councillors, 4 women and 8 men. Originally 13 but one man stood down at the last minute. It was very exciting at the “count” in High Wycombe Town Hall. The highest vote was 279 and the lowest 114. The first councillors were, in order of votes, Vicki (June) Bristow [now Smith], Christine Baul, Michael Gerrard, John Turner, Jayne Watson, Lesslie Watson, and Gordon Sparrow.
The Parish Councillors were summoned to their first meeting by Wycombe District Council, which was held in the Church Room at 6-30 pm on Tuesday, May the 12th 1987, and invited to elect their Chairman (Lesslie Watson) and Vice-Chairman (Vicki Bristow [now Smith]).
Vicki Smith (formerly Bristow) became Chairman two years later and is the longest serving member of the Council. Michael Gerrard retired for a short time but was re-elected and held office until he died on 30th June 2005.
The first Parish Clerk was Mrs Dee Cameron who held the post from May 1987 to June 1988 when she was succeeded by Mrs Gill Aldridge who carried out the duties until November 1995 when our present clerk Mrs Sharon Henson took over the position and gained her AQA Accreditation in Local Council Administration on September 29th 2004; a pre-requisite qualification for any Parish Council seeking quality status.
Today the Parish Council serves a community of approximately 1300 adults plus children and the National Trust owns most of the properties in the village. The remainder of the Parish is made up of privately owned flats and houses. A large number of the residents have lived in the Parish for many years.