Ever wondered what the Parish Council does, or do you have strong views on what it should be doing?
Well, here’s your chance to find out more, and to influence what happens in your parish over the next four years.
On Monday, 20th March, between 7.30 and 9 pm, parish councillors will be holding a drop-in session at the Jubilee Club House to explain what’s involved in being a parish councillor, and to encourage residents to stand for election. Why not pop in, and find out more?
In the meantime, here is a potted Q & A about becoming a parish councillor
What does the Parish Council do?
The Parish Council is not a voluntary organisation. Although its councillor members are not paid, they are technically not volunteers, but holders of a public office. A parish council is the lowest form of local government, responsible for the provision of certain local services. It raises money through the Parish Precept (which is added to your Council Tax), and may also raise money by applying for grants.
Activities will vary from parish to parish, but parish councils may maintain or contribute to; village halls and community centres, allotments, parking, crime reduction schemes, play grounds, youth projects, bus shelters, litter bins, street cleaning, traffic calming measures.
In Lydiard Millicent, for example, the Parish Council maintains the Jubilee Club House, and sports ground, and the playgrounds. It organises grass-cutting, and is consulted on planning applications. The Parish Council has been instumental in organising street-calming measures, the creation of footpaths, and the community field/car park project.
The Parish Council is supposed to be the collective voice of the community.
Why is the Parish Council holding a drop-in session now?
As a democratic body, a Parish Council is elected every four years.
Local elections take place on 4 May 2017. There are eleven vacancies for Parish Councillors in Lydiard Millicent, and if more than eleven people in the parish put their names forward, there will be an election here.
In recent years, a number of parish councillors have resigned, and it has not always been easy to find new councillors. The forthcoming election is an opportunity to get more residents involved, and for the council to become a more diverse and more proactive body.
Who can become a Parish Councillor?
It is important that the Parish Council, as a democratic body, reflects the whole community. You may have a picture in your head of a typical councillor. However, there really is no such thing. The most important thing is caring about your community, and being prepared to share some of your time and ideas.
That said, there are some qualifications.
You must be over 18, and either be resident in the parish, or within three miles of its boundary, or have your main work place, or place of business here. Certain exclusions also apply, but if you pay council tax here, and you are not a convicted felon, then the chances are you’ll qualify.
Why should I be bothered?
Any organisation is only as good as its members, and a strong local council can impact positively on its community.
If you want to see changes, or just to keep your village the way it is, consider joining the council, and make your voice heard.
How do I find out more?
Come along to the drop-in event on Monday, 20th March, at the Jubilee Club House, between 7.30pm to 9.00pm.
You can also find out more in the WALC Local Council Elections Guide 2017 (just click on the link to downlaod the pdf).
But, don’t delay. Nominations have to be delivered to Wiltshire Council on or before 4 April 2017.