What is a Parish Council?
· They are a duly elected (usually every 4 years) first tier local authority that makes decisions on behalf of the people in the Parish.
· Next scheduled elections will be May 2023 for Pilning & Severn Beach Parish.
Eligibility to become a Parish Councillor:
· Must be a UK or commonwealth citizen, or; be a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, or; (currently) be a citizen of another Member state of the European Union.
· Must be at least 18 years old.
· Must be an elector of the parish, or; for the whole of the previous 12 months have occupied (as owner or tenant) land or other premises in the parish, or; during the previous 12 months have worked in the parish (as your principal or only place of work), or; for the whole of the previous 12 months lived in the parish or within three miles of the parish boundary.
· You do not have to be connected to a political party.
· You will be required to sign up to the Code of Conduct.
Role of a Parish Council:
· To give views, on behalf of the community, on planning applications and other proposals that affect the Parish.
· To undertake projects and schemes that benefit local residents.
· To work in partnership with other bodies to achieve benefits for the Parish.
· To alert relevant authorities to problems that arise or work that needs to be undertaken.
· To help the other tiers of local government keep in touch with their local communities.
Role of a Parish Council Chairman:
· With assistance of the Parish Council Clerk is responsible for ensuring that effective and lawful decisions are taken at Parish Council meetings and guides activities by managing these meetings.
Role of a Parish Council Clerk (Proper Officer):
· An employed member who has a statutory duty to ensure that the Parish Council as a whole conducts its business properly and to provide independent, objective and professional advice and support including responsibility for all of its financial records and the careful administration of its finances.
· Often they research topics of concern to provide unbiased information to help the Council to make appropriate decisions.
Remit of a Parish Council:
· Burial Grounds, Cemeteries, Churchyards and Crematoria.
· Bus Shelters.
· By-laws – the power to make bye-laws concerning baths and washhouses (swimming pools), cycle parks, mortuaries and pleasure grounds.
· Clocks – public clocks can be provided and must be maintained.
· Community Centres, Conference Centres, Halls, Public Buildings.
· Drainage – of ditches and ponds.
· Entertainment and the Arts.
· Gifts – parish councils may accept gifts.
· Highways – lighting, parking places, right to enter into discussions about new roads and road widening, consent of parish council required for diversion or discontinuation of highway, traffic signs and other notices, tree planting and verge maintenance.
· Land – acquisition and sale of.
· Legal proceedings – power to prosecute and defend any legal proceedings in the interests of the community, power to take part in any public enquiry.
· Litter – provision of litter-bins and support for any anti-litter campaigns.
· Planning – parish councils must be notified of, and display for residents, any planning applications for the area. Any comments submitted to the planning authority by the parish council must be taken into account.
· Postal & Telecommunication Facilities – power to pay a public tele-communications operator any loss sustained in providing services in that area
· Public conveniences – provision and maintenance of public toilets.
· Recreation – provision of recreation grounds, public walkways, pleasure grounds, open spaces, village greens, gymnasiums, playing fields, holiday camps and boating ponds.
· Rights of Way – footpath and bridleway maintenance.
· Seats (public).
· Signs – danger signs, place names and bus stops signs.
· Spending – parish councils can spend a limited amount of money on anything they deem of benefit to the community that is not covered by the other specific responsibilities described in this list.
· Tourism – financial contributions to any local tourist organisations allowed.
· Traffic Calming.
· War Memorials.
· Water Supply – power to utilise stream, well or spring water and to provide facilities for general use.
Revised August 2018 by Doug Nethercott, Retired Parish Councillor, Severn Beach