List of Councillors and responsibilities
What does your Parish Council do?
• Parish Councils – Local Government Act 1972
• Power & Responsibilities of Parish Councils
• A Parish Council must...
• Parish Council Meetings
• The remit of a Town or Parish Council
• General Spending
• Rules governing a Parish Councillor
• The seven Nolan principles – Code of Conduct
• The Role of the Chairman
• Role of the Clerk
• Information available from Froxfield Parish Council (under the freedom of information model publication scheme)
• References and web site information
FROXFIELD PARISH COUNCIL
WHAT DOES YOUR PARISH COUNCIL DO?
The term 'local Council' is synonymous with 'Parish Council', 'Town Council' and 'Community Council'
and part of Local Government.
The foregoing summary applies to local Councils, but the Town or Parish Council’s remit will vary from one Parish to another depending on Parish boundaries, population, demographics, local assets, services and facilities.
Parish Councils are carefully regulated by the Local Government Act 1972 and conducted by observing certain formalities. A Council must do what the Law requires. A Council must follow the legislation. The Council has been granted powers by Parliament including raising money through taxation (the precept) and the authority to spend public money.
Powers and Responsibilities of Parish Councils
A Parish Council is a body corporate as a statutory body. It has certain powers to provide and maintain certain amenities within the Parish. A Parish Council can make standing orders for the regulation of its proceedings and business and may vary or revoke such orders. A Parish Council can also create committees to deal with various functions such as planning or community functions. Standing orders can be made to regulate quorum, proceedings, and place of meeting of any committee of the Parish Council. Unless a Parish Council delegates its functions to its committees and officers, decisions for the discharge of its functions can only be made at Parish meetings. In the planning context, Parish Councils often give delegated authority to members of a planning committee to consider and respond to planning applications received from the local planning authority.
The Parish Council must: appoint a Chairman. Appoint officers as appropriate for carrying out its functions. Appoint a responsible financial officer (RFO) to manage the Council’s financial affairs; the RFO is often the Clerk, especially in smaller Councils. Appoint an independent and competent internal auditor. Adopt a Code of Conduct. Hold a minimum number of four meetings per year, one of which must be the Annual Meeting. (Reference A)
Parish Council meetings
The Council must advertise the meetings by putting up public notices; electors have a right to attend. Many Councils encourage members of the public to speak and ask questions in a short, defined period, early or at the end of the meeting. The meeting must remain quorate at all times. What happens if a decision needs to be taken between meetings? Where the matter needs full discussion, the Chairman might call an extraordinary meeting. (Reference A)
THE REMIT OF THE PARISH COUNCIL
In Froxfield your Parish Council’s remit, includes the Parish Council Assets and provides funds for -
Allotments · Burial Grounds, Cemeteries, Churchyard cutting and Crematoria · Bus Shelters · Public benches. Check of play equipment. Bye-laws – cycle parks, mortuaries and pleasure grounds. The village green cutting. Clocks · Community Centres· The village hall rent. Drainage – of ditches and ponds. Footpaths. The Clerk’s wage. Necessary Insurances.
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. The Parish Council attends CATG and MAB meetings and via these groups has input into:]
Traffic Calming – 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, dog fouling.
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.
The Parish Council will attend the MAB and provide input into Postal and Telecommunication Facilities. Public conveniences – provision and maintenance of public toilets · Recreation – provision of recreation grounds, public walkways, pleasure grounds, open spaces, village greens, and playing fields. Rights of Way – footpath and bridleway maintenance. Village Halls. Seats (public). Signs – danger signs, place names and bus stops signs. Tourism – financial contributions to any local tourist organisations allowed. War Memorials. Water Supply – power to utilise stream, well or spring water and to provide facilities for general use. Gifts – Parish Councils may accept gifts. For a definitive list see - (Reference C) and for the CATG or MAB the Wiltshire Council’s website.
RULES THAT GOVERN THE PARISH COUNCIL
A Councillor has a responsibility to: attend meetings when summoned to do so; the notice to attend a Council meeting is, in law, a summons, because Councillors have a duty to attend. Consider, in advance of the meeting the agenda and any related documents which were sent with the summons. Take part in meetings and consider all the relevant facts and issues on matters, which require a decision including the views of others expressed at the meeting. Take part in voting and respect decisions made by the majority of those present and voting. Ensure, with other Councillors, that the Council is properly managed. Represent the whole electorate and not a clique. (Reference A)
The seven Nolan principles that apply to the conduct of people in public life.
Selflessness: to act in the public interest. Integrity: do not put yourself under any obligations to others, allow them improperly to influence you or seek benefit for yourself, family, friends or close associates. Objectivity: to act impartially, fairly and on merit. Accountability: to be prepared to submit to public scrutiny necessary to ensure accountability.
Openness: to be open and transparent in actions and decisions unless there are clear and lawful reasons for non-disclosure.
Honesty: to always be truthful. Leadership: as a Councillor, to promote, support and exhibit high standards of conduct and be willing to challenge poor behaviour. (Reference A)
Your Parish Councillors have adopted these principles as their code of conduct. They actively work to ensure that:
• one person or a small group of Councillors do not dominate its work. A Councillor (including the Chairman) cannot make decisions on behalf of the Parish Council.
• We listen to and communicate with the community, other local Councils, principal authorities, and outside bodies.
We work when required with the press to ensure openness and accountability.
• We keep written contracts and records in good order.
• We have a robust system of financial control • Manage meetings effectively and aim to be is well informed on topics to be discussed.
Sometimes things go wrong, due to confusion as to the responsibilities of a Parish Council or the Parish Council has not communicated effectively with the wider community. You may disagree with a decision reached. In the first instance, we would ask you raise your concern with a Councillor or the Chairman. We would hope to resolve the issue by discussing the problem in an open and considerate manner. If we cannot resolve the issue, we will advise you as to ‘why’.
If you feel your complaint has not been handled satisfactorily, please write to the Clerk outlining your complaint and providing as much information as possible. If it is about the Clerk, please address your letter to the Chairman. We will look into the matter and endeavour to respond to your complaint within 14 days of receipt of your letter. Finally, if the matter is still unresolved you can complain to your Member of Parliament.
THE ROLE OF THE CHAIRMAN
The Chairman is in charge during meetings; this is an office created by legislation. The Chairman is elected at the Annual Meeting of the Council for one year. He/she has a duty to ensure that Council meetings run smoothly, by introducing agenda items, inviting members to speak, focusing discussions, and clarifying matters for decision. Ensure all Councillors who wish to speak can do so. Having engaged in discussion, vote for or against the proposal by a show of hands. It is good practice for the Chairman to refer to the Clerk for advice. (Reference A) He/she has few special powers. For instance, it is unlawful for a Council to delegate decision making to any individual Councillor and the Chairman is no different. However, when a vote is tied, the Chairman may use a second or casting vote. The Chairman leads the Annual Town or Parish Meeting. Councillors, Clerk and Chairman work together as a team; they combine knowledge and skills to deliver real benefits to the community they serve. Good working relationships, mutual respect, and an understanding of their different roles are vital. (Reference A)
ROLE OF THE CLARK
The Clerk provides advice and administrative support and takes action to implement Council decisions. The Clerk is answerable only to the Council as a whole. The Clerk is the proper officer of the Council in Law. He or She will issue the Agenda in conjunction with the Chairman, Councillors, and members of the public; take minutes of the meeting and issue it. Provide accounts for the work of the Parish Council. Legally Councils can delegate decisions to Clerks because they are trusted professional officers whose objectivity allows them to act for the Council. Members of the public can officially raise an issue with the Clerk and ask for the matter to be on the Agenda under correspondence or any other business. The Clerk can make such as routine decisions, dealing with emergencies or spending small sums of money. Standing orders may require decisions to be taken after consultation with two Councillors (including the Chairman) but the decision remains with the officer. Most importantly, the Council must not allow delegation to a single Councillor – not even to the Chairman. (Reference A)
Accounts – We have an obligation to be financially responsible for public money. The rules are set by Government and designed to make sure that the Council does not take unacceptable risks with public money. The words ‘risk management’ govern every Councillor’s actions. Our Clerk is the ‘responsible financial officer’. A budget is an essential tool for controlling the Council’s finances. It demonstrates that your Council will have sufficient income to carry out its activities and policies. By checking spending against budget plans on a regular basis at Council meetings, the Council controls its finances during the year so that it can confidently make progress towards what it wants to achieve. The accounts have been publicised for general inspection so that electors’ rights can be exercised. (Reference A) See www.froxfield.org where recent accounts are posted.
INFORMATION AVAILABLE FROM FROXFIELD PARISH COUNCIL UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION MODEL PUBLICATION SCHEME
Information to be published or How the information can be obtained:
Class 1 - Who are we and what do we do. Published on this website.
Who’s on the Council? List of Councillors posted on Notice Boards, website
Class 2 - What do we spend and how do we spend it.
Annual Financial return and report from Auditor Available from the Clerk and this website.
Precept Published in Minutes available from Clerk and this website.
Financial Standing Orders Available from the Clerk.
Current contracts awarded and value Available from the Clerk.
Class 3 - What our priorities are
Parish Plan and Design Statement: Not yet done
Annual Report to Parish meeting: Available from the Clerk.
Village Road Plan: Published on this website.
Emergency Plan: Published on this website.
Class 4 - How we make decisions
Meetings and Parish meetings: The Council meets on the 1st Wednesday, alternate months.
Agendas and minutes are available from the Clerk and via this website.
Responses to planning applications: see minutes
Class 5 - Our policies and procedures
Standing Orders: Available from the Clerk
Code of Conduct: Available from the Clerk and, within this document, is our Equality and Diversity Policy
Health & Safety policy: RoSPA guidelines are followed
Class 6 - Lists and registers
Assets register: Available from the Clerk and on this website
Register of members Interests: Available from the Clerk
Class 7 - The Services we offer
• Managing the Village Green and Recreational facilities (Village Green and Play area)
• Managing the Water Meadows: A natural reserve for flora and fauna on donated land
Personal information relating to Councillors (other than required to be declared in Register of Interest)
Published March 2009 Froxfield Parish Council
https://www.localgov.co.uk/What-are-Parish-Councils/35176 Wiltshire Council: Home - www.wiltshire.gov.uk/
More information - The community right to bid gives communities a better chance to save a local asset of significance to the community, like a library, a village shop, a community centre, or a pub. A community can nominate buildings and land as an asset delivering the good of community value, and stop the clock on a sale of listed assets for up to 6 months. This gives local Councils and other community groups the opportunity to raise finance for the bid. It takes just 21 people to nominate an asset.
Community rights information
www.mycommunityrights.org.uk/ www.mycommunityrights.org.uk/community-right-to-bid/ www.mycommunityrights.org.uk/community-asset-transfer/ www.mycommunityrights.org.uk/community-right-to-build/ www.mycommunityrights.org.uk/community-right-to-challenge/ www.mycommunityrights.org.uk/neighbourhood-planning/ www.planningforCouncillors.org/
Organisations (government and non-government) The Department for Communities and Local Government www.communities.gov.uk
The Department for Environment, Farming, and Rural Affairs www.defra.gov.uk The Local Government Association www.local.gov.uk
National Association of Local Councils www.nalc.gov.uk