title="Chiddingfold Parish Council in Surrey">

Parish CouncilWed, 20th November 2019

Parish Council

Introducing Your Council

 

What is a Parish Council?

A parish council is type of local council.  It is the first tier of local government and is a statutory body. Other forms of local council are community, neighbourhood and town councils. They serve electorates and are independently elected and raise their own precept (a form of council tax). Local councils work towards improving community well-being and providing better services. Their activities fall into three main categories: representing the local community (for example by influencing decision makers in the principal authorities); delivering services to meet local needs; striving to improve quality of life and community well-being.  

Higher tiers of local government, known as principal authorities (such as Waverley Borough Council and Surrey County Council), have many legal duties to deliver services such as education, housing, town and country planning, environmental health, social services, policing etc.

Through an extensive range of discretionary powers local councils provide and maintain a variety of important and visible local services including allotments, bridleways, bus shelters, commons and open spaces, community transport schemes, community safety and crime reduction measures, events and festivals, footpaths, leisure and sports facilities, litter bins, public toilets, planning, street cleaning and lighting, tourism activities, traffic calming measures, village greens and youth projects.

 

What are the Chiddingfold Parish Council’s Main Responsibilities?

As well as managing the land and assets which it owns or is responsible for (eg the Village Green and the Recreation Ground), the council is closely involved in matters concerning, planning (see below), highways, traffic, community safety, the War Memorial, public seats, grit bins, rights of way etc.  The Council also maintains close contact with, and supports where appropriate a range of social, sports and welfare clubs, societies and organisations within the community.

The Parish Council is currently in the process of producing a draft Neighbourhood Plan, which is a community-led planning framework introduced in 2012 by the Localism Act 2011.  You can find out more about our Neighbourhood Plan by clicking here.

 

How does the Council Operate?

The council consists of nine councillors who live or work in the local community.  None receives any remuneration for the work they do.  Councillors are either formally elected or, in certain circumstances where a vacancy occurs, co-opted by resolution of the Council.  Elections are held every four years.

On election, councillors formally undertake to perform their duties in accordance with the Code of Conduct for Councillors, and with the Council’s Standing Orders and Financial Regulations.  They also have to disclose, and register with Waverley Borough Council, any personal interests that may conflict or be seen to conflict with their work as councillors.

At the Annual Meeting of the Parish Council, a Chairman for the coming year is elected and councillors are allocated responsibility – either individually or in small groups – for implementing projects or particular aspects of the Council’s routine work according to their expertise, experience, interests and availability.

 

When does the Council Hold Meetings?

Parish Councils are required by law to hold, as a minimum, an Annual Meeting of the Parish Council (in May) and three other meetings.  In practice, the full Council holds Ordinary Meetings every month except August.  In addition, the Planning and Finance & Compliance Committees meet every month and there may be a number of other meetings held by Working Groups within the Council.   Notices for the Annual and Ordinary Meetings of the council are posted on the parish noticeboards in the village and posted on the Calendar section of the website. Meeting of the Full Council and its formal Committees are open to the public.

 

What is the role of the Parish Clerk?

The Clerk’s overall responsibility, as an employee of the Parish Council, is to carry out the policy decisions of the Council and to advise and guide it on matters of procedure and law.  The Clerk is responsible for seeing that the business of the Council runs smoothly and efficiently and is conducted in accordance with the law, including ensuring that the Council’s financial transactions are properly authorised, recorded and audited.  The Clerk also performs clerical and administrative tasks without which the Council’s business cannot properly be transacted.

 

What Powers does the Council have in Relation to Planning?

The Parish Council has no statutory powers in the planning process, however Waverley Borough Council (as the Local Planning Authority) is required to consult the council on planning applications originating in, or of relevance to the parish.  The parish council is therefore able to contribute local knowledge and understanding to Waverley’s decision-making process.

Planning applications are normally considered by the Planning Committee whose comments and any recommendations are forwarded by the Clerk for consideration by Waverley’s planning committee (or more usually by a delegated planning officer), alongside any representations made by members of the public or other organisations.   The planning authority may or may not agree with the council’s views, but will take account of them as part of the process determining the outcome of each application.   

If the draft Chiddingfold Neighbourhood Plan is successful at referendum it will form part of the Statutory framework for planning decisions, within the Parish until 2032.

Councillors also attend relevant Waverley Borough Council Planning Committees and appeal hearings and speak when permitted on relevant issues.

The parish council’s responses to planning applications are published on the Waverley Planning Portal and you can search for applications here.

 

Who are the Council?

  • The Parish has Councillors elected by the residents every four years.  For more information on your Councillors’ and council staff click here.

 

When does the Council meet?

  • For more details on the dates, times and venue of Council meetings, please click here.

How can you get involved?

Members of the public are free to contact councillors and the Clerk directly to report matters, ask questions or raise matters that they feel the Parish Council should be addressing.

Matters can be raised informally or formally within the public questions section of meetings (more details on this process can be found here).

The council has a number of events that the public are invited to participate in each year and there is scope to get involved with projects and working groups.

If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a councillor please get in touch. You can find out how to contact the council here.