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Herefordshire Council Notice


Following the questionnaire I circulated last month, some of your responses have mentioned the role of parish councils (mostly supportive) so I thought It may be useful to explain their role in more detail.

Town and parish councils were established by an Act of Parliament in 1894 and there are now some 9,000 councils in England with 80,000+ citizens serving as parish councillors. They are democratically elected (although they can be co-opted) and represent about 16 million people across the country.

Your parish council will have an agreed charter or protocol setting out the various roles and responsibilities within the council and they play a vital part in representing the interests of local residents by helping to improve the quality of life and the local environment. The services delivered by parish councils are many and varied and can include planning, traffic and highways, community safety, allotments, cemeteries, playgrounds, community centres, seats and shelters, war memorials, and rights of way. As part of the localism agenda, they are now being encouraged to play an even greater role in their communities by developing their own Neighbourhood Development Plans.

Parish councils are funded by way of a local precept, collected by the County Council via your council tax and you can see the amounts involved on your council tax bill. Parish councillors are not paid, but they are supported by a paid parish clerk, who will give advice and administrative support to the councillors and will take action to implement any decisions made by the council. The clerk’s role is not just secretarial as they are answerable to the parish as a whole and they are the authorised officer of the council in law. Councils can agree to delegate decisions to clerks because they are professional officers whose independence allows them to act on behalf of the council.

As a District Ward Councillor, I place great value in working closely with the six parish councils within the Ward and I’m in regular contact with the parish clerks. I make every effort to attend all the regular parish council meetings and my role would be far more difficult without the clerks’ help and the support of the councillors.

The diversity of parish councils is their strength and they can each make a unique contribution to the needs of their local community with a sensitivity that may be more difficult for the larger County Council to achieve.

I would urge residents to attend your parish council meetings, that way you can see local democracy in action and if necessary you have the right to challenge the council’s decisions if you think they may be wrong, unfair or too costly. If you really want to make a difference, you can always put your name forward and stand for election to the parish council.

Cllr Bruce Baker
Hampton Ward

Date: 02/05/2018
Contact Name: Cllr Bruce Baker
Email: Bruce.Baker@herefordshire.gov.uk

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