Twyning Parish Council
What is a Parish Council?
Parish Councils are the first tier of local government. As it is the authority closest to the people, parish councils are invariably the first place people will go with concerns or ideas. For this reason they are a vital part of any community.
What decisions do Parish Councils make?
Parish councils can make certain decisions on issues that affect the local community. Probably the most common topics that parish councils get involved with are planning matters (they are statutory consultees), crime prevention, managing open spaces and campaigning for and delivering better services and facilities.
It's true to say that on their own, parish councils have limited powers to make decisions as their powers and duties are defined by law. But they do have the ability to negotiate with, and the power to influence, other organisations that do make the final decisions (such as the borough council, health authorities, police etc).
When does the Council meet?
Twyning Parish Council usually meets 11 times a year, on the third Monday of the month. There is no meeting in August and the December meeting is on the second Monday. Sometimes there are extra meetings when a matter of importance arises that cannot wait until the next scheduled meeting. Meeting dates, times, and places, together with the agenda, appear on the web site and on the Parish Council notice boards about a week before the meeting. Members of the public are welcome to attend. Meetings usually last for about two hours, depending on what is on the agenda. All meetings start with an open forum at which members of the public can raise concerns and ask questions. At other times, residents can bring to the attention of the parish council anything that concerns them, either directly with Councillors or though the clerk. If matters raised are not the responsibility of the council, the clerk can bring them to the attention of the proper authority.
There is also an Annual Parish Meeting (Called the Parish Assembly in Twyning) which all parishioners are invited to attend. This is NOT a Parish Council meeting but an open meeting for residents of the parish.
Twyning has 9 parish councillors. Once elected, parish councillors sit on the council for a maximum of four years. They can stand for re-election if they wish. If a councillor leaves mid-term, the public have the option to ask for a by-election (which has to be paid for from Parish Council funds) but if no request is made, the Council can co-opt another resident to fill the vacancy.
To be a parish councillor, you must:
- be a UK or commonwealth citizen, or;
- be a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, or;
- be a citizen of another Member state of the European Union and
- be a least 18 years old
You must also:
- 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.
No Twyning parish councillors have any particular political party affiliations and all have agreed to uphold a Code of Conduct.
What powers do parish councils have?
Parish Councils have the following general powers, not all applicable in Twyning.
- Looking after community buildings
- Open space and cemeteries (including provision of litter receptacles)
- Play areas
- Street lighting
- Bus shelters
- Public clocks
- War memorials
- The power to raise money through taxation the precept). The precept is the parish council's share of the council tax. It is collected for the parish by the Borough Council.
Parish councils must be notified by the borough or county council of all planning applications in their areas.
Many parts of England have another 2 tiers of local government:
- county councils
- district, borough or city councils
- County council
These are responsible for services across the whole of a county, like:
- fire and public safety
- social care
- waste management
- trading standards
These cover a smaller area than county councils. They're usually responsible for services like:
- rubbish collection
- Council Tax collections
- planning applications
- environmental health