General Information


What is a Parish Council?

Parish Councils are often referred to as a Local Council, which is a type of Local Authority. Like other types of Local Authorities, Parish Councils are involved in the delivery of services and facilities. The difference being that a Parish Council works for the residents and community of the area in which it has been established.

A Parish Council enjoys a wide range of Statutory Powers related to the provision or support of certain services or facilities which benefit the residents who live in its area.

Parish Councils need active, interested and committed people to become Councillors within their area and get involved in the work they do.

A Parish Council is a type of Local Authority with specific Statutory Functions and Powers. Unlike other types of Local Authorities, there are relatively few Statutory Functions imposed on a Local Parish Council. The few Statutory Functions that are imposed and important relate to, for example, the holding of meetings, the management of its finances and the preparation of the Annual Accounts.

A Parish Council can and will need to employ staff for example a Parish Clerk a Lengthsman (litter picker) if required and possibly a Groundsman. So bringing in a few jobs to the area for local people. A Parish Council can own and manage premises, it can enter into contracts and it will provide services to its own community.

Like other types of Local Authorities, a Parish Council does have obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, The Human Rights Act 1998 and The Equality Act 2010.

How do Parish Councils Operate?

All decisions about what a Parish Council does will be taken at meetings held by the Council, these meetings are public meetings and all residents are welcome to attend. Some of the work of a Parish Council can be delegated to a small group of Councillors for example, on a specific Committee or Sub-Committee or to its staff.

Although the Public and Press have a right to attend meetings of a Parish Council and its Committees or Sub-Committees, it is the Elected Local Councillors who collectively make the decisions about Council business and what services or facilities to provide within the local community.

What does a Parish Council do?

Unlike other types of Local Authorities, Parish Councils are not tasked with Statutory Responsibilities relating to the provision of housing or social care, education or waste collection. Parish Councils are in the fortunate position of having Statutory Powers which they have discretion to exercise.

Many Parish Councils can chose to get involved in a broad range of projects and activities, the purpose of which is to make the local area a better place to live. Although Parish Councils are not formally obliged to provide many public services, the Government is encouraging Parish Councils to deliver more services and play a greater part in supporting its own community.

What is the role of the Parish Councillor?

Parish Councils are made up of a number of Councillors who meet regularly to make decisions on the work and direction of the Council. Councillors collectively decide and prioritise the nature of the activities that their Parish Council will undertake, including determining the annual precept (council tax) and how facilities and services will be provided. They have collective responsibility for ensuring that the Council is adequately resourced to deliver the facilities and services it has agreed to provide. They also have collective responsibility for ensuring that the Council's financial management is sound.

What is a Parish Councillor expected to do?

  • Attend and participate at Parish Council Meetings

  • Raise matters to be duly considered and decided at the Parish Council Meetings

  • To represent his or her Parish Council externally

It is important to remember that the job of the Parish Council is to represent the interests of the whole community that it serves. Understanding the needs of different groups within the community, such as the young people and elderly people, this is an important part of the role of a Parish Councillor. Occasionally there will be a conflict of interest requiring sensitive judgement, for example, dog owners, parents of young children and walkers might disagree about use of the village recreation ground or park which may be owned by the Parish Council. Making difficult decisions, in an open and reasoned way, and is something that Parish Councils need to do well. 

Although some Councillors for example the District or County Councillors for the ward may choose to represent the interests of individual residents, this activity is independent of the Parish Council.

Parish Councillors Should?

  • Attend meetings of the Parish Council when summoned to do so.

  • Consider, in advance of the meeting, the agenda and any related documents.

  • 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.

  • To represent the whole electorate, and not just those who vote for them.

The role of the Clerk to a Parish Council is:

  • To assist the Parish Council with the discharge of its Statutory Functions or duties and the exercise of its Statutory Powers.

  • The Clerk to the Parish Council plays an essential role and is key in helping Councillors implement their decisions as the Clerk is the only paid officer to the Council in most cases.

What are Parish Council meetings?

The Parish Council meeting is the normal way that Parish Council business is carried out. Amongst other items a meeting will usually discuss planning applications, reports from District and County Councillors, ongoing activity within the Parish and items brought to the attention of the Parish Council by members of the Public.
The Parish Council normally meets on the second Thursday of the month in the Findern Parish Rooms, commencing at 7.00pm. The meetings are open to the public with time set aside for public participation.
The Public and Press are most welcome to attend these meetings.

 

Disorderly Conduct at meetings

  • No person shall obstruct the transaction of business at a Parish Council meeting or behave offensively or improperly. If this Standing Order is ignored, the Chairman of the meeting shall request such person(s) to moderate or improve their conduct.

  • If person(s) disregard the request of the Chairman of the Parish Council Meeting to moderate or improve their conduct, any Councillor or the Chairman of the meeting may move that the person be no longer heard or excluded from the meeting. The motion, if seconded, shall be put to the vote without discussion.

  • If a resolution made under the standing order above is ignored, the Chairman of the meeting may take further reasonable steps to restore order or to progress the meeting. This may include temporarily suspending or closing the meeting.