What is a Parish Council?
Parish Councils are the lowest tier of government in England. Despite the name, they have no formal links to the church. The Parish Council is responsible for a 'parish' - a relatively small area enclosing one community. If the community is sufficiently large, the council may be called a Town Council. In some small parishes (e.g. Preston Bagot) there is no Parish Council, just an annual Parish Meeting.
The next tier above Parish Councils is the District Council (in our case, Stratford on Avon District Council) which covers a much wider area, and above that comes Warwickshire County Council. Funding of Parish Councils, and their limited range of services, is via a "precept" which is added to the annual District/County Council plus Police and Fire Authority charges and collected by the District Council from residents as the Council Tax.
What does a Parish Council do?
Parish Councils have a number of legal powers defined by various statutory provisions (e.g. Local Government Act 1972; Parish Councils Act 1957; Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984; etc). Their main role is to exert influence on the decisions of District and County Councils. They are consulted on local Planning Applications, Highway/Road Safety issues, long term planning and wider community involvement strategies. 'Parish Appraisals' and 'Parish Plans', initiated by Parish Councils, are specifically intended to guide the higher authorities in relation to their decisions affecting the local community.
In our case, the Parish Council is directly responsible for providing the following services to the village:-
- Bus Shelters, and their maintenance
- Street Lighting, and its maintenance
- Maintenance of the land around the Village Hall (including Car Parks), Village Notice Boards, etc
- Maintaining/Improving the land at Pound Field (now officially registered as a 'Village Green')
- Provision of Grit/Salt bins at strategic points
- Supporting the maintenance of village burial grounds
- Insuring the use of play equipment at the school for the benefit of the wider community
- Grants to support local voluntary groups/associations
- Planting trees/shrubs to enhance the surroundings and to commemorate key events
- Commenting on all Planning Applications and making appropriate representations to the Area Planning Committee
- Providing a focus within the village for action/representations on key issues
- Organising 'Parish Appraisals/Plans', and acting on their recommendations
When does the Council meet, and where?
The Parish Council meets every month usually on the last Monday of the month at 6.30p.m. All meetings are held in Wootton Wawen Village Hall. An annual 'Parish Assembly' is held in April to enable residents to hear reports from all organisations active in the village and provide an opportunity for discussions on topics of general interest. The Annual Meeting of the Parish Council is held in May.
All meetings are open to the general public and views on matters of interest are encouraged at the start and at the conclusion of the meeting. Members of the public cannot take part in the actual Council meeting. Both our District Councillors and our County Councillor are usually present to report on matters of interest/importance, and to follow up - with their respective Councils - issues identified by the Parish Council. Occasionally, Council officials or representatives from other bodies linked to Local Government will attend to report on selected matters of importance to the village.
Who are the Parish Councillors and how do I contact them?
Parish Councillors are all volunteers, elected to serve for four years. However, only if there are more candidates standing for election than there are seats on the Council, will an election be held. The names, addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail contact details of the current Parish Councillors and the Clerk to the Council can be found here. They are all available to help and assist in any Parish related matters. The Councillors are all bound by the new 'Code of Conduct' developed by the "Standards Board for England" under the instructions of the "Department of Transport and Local Regions", which came into force in May 2002. The purpose of the code is to ensure all in public office conduct themselves in a responsible way, with respect, with impartiality, without compromise, discrimination, or conflict of interest.
How do I find out what has been agreed at Parish Council Meetings?
You will find minutes of meetings here and on the notice board in the Village Hall. Minutes cannot be published until approved (as a true record of the particular meeting) at the following Parish Council or Planning meeting.
The "Freedom of Information Act 2000", which came fully into force in 2003, gives a general right of access to all types of 'recorded' information held by public authorities. The Parish Council has two main obligations under the Act - to produce/agree to a 'publication scheme' (effectively a guide to what information they hold which is publicly available), and how to deal with requests for information. Our Council decided in January 2003 to adopt the Model Publication Scheme to provide information in core classes. Any requests for information should be made in writing to the Clerk and a charge of 10p. per A4 sheet supplied will be levied.