Arguably the most accessible form of Government in the UK today are local Parish & Town Councils. They are also the most diverse, in terms of their size, the regularity of when they meet, their budget, and the assets and activities which they have responsibility for.
Typically Parish & Town Councils only exist within rural or countryside Boroughs or Districts and they often hold responsibility for the area around and including a Village, a definable/outlying area of a Town or a group of very small Villages or Hamlets (Parish), or alternatively an area known as a Town which itself is not big enough demographically (have enough people living there or registered to vote) to qualify as a Borough or District in government terms.
Their responsibilities typically include:
- Community Assets (Which includes Village Halls, Town Halls, Public Toilets, other community buildings, playing fields, parks, green spaces etc, which have belonged to the Parish/Town historically OR have been ‘adopted’ as a result of development)
- Litter Bins (Paying for their purchase and installation, choosing the site etc)
- Dog Bins (Paying for their purchase and installation, choosing the site etc)
- Benches (Paying for their purchase and installation, choosing the site etc)
- Bus Shelters (Paying for their purchase and installation, choosing the site etc)
- Cleaning and maintaining Community Assets
- Setting the Parish or Town ‘Precept’ – the amount every household contributes to the running of the Council, which is paid as part of their ‘Council Tax’
- Consideration of Planning Applications as a Respondent
- Representing the community where appropriate
- Supporting other community stakeholders and local organisations (where appropriate)
- Other responsibilities which are specific to the Council
It doesn’t look or sound like a lot of responsibility. But for those who really care about the community in which they live and the shared experience they have with others who live and work there too, becoming a member of a local Parish or Town Council can be very rewarding as it is possible to experience the impact of the work and decisions made first hand.
Parish & Town Councils will always have at least one Officer known as a Clerk, who is responsible for administration and communication. The Clerk is person you would normally contact to make enquiries about the work of the Council.
Information regarding the area which the Parish or Town Council covers (its Electoral Constituency), its Parish Wards, the number of Councillors elected for each, the Electoral Cycle (When the Council will next be elected) should be available from the Council itself via its Website, or alternatively the Clerk. Otherwise, the Democratic Services Department of the corresponding District Level Authority should be able to help, or you can find information from the Local Government Boundary Commission here.
image thanks to http://www.gold.uktv.co.uk