The Parish Council – What is a Parish?
There are two sorts of “Parish” and their boundaries don’t always coincide.
Ecclesiastical Parishes centred on the Anglican Church – each with a Parochial Church Council (PCC) to run them.
Civil Parishes, which are part of local administration – and when the community has more than 200 electors – with a Parish Council (PC) to manage their affairs.
The Civil Parishes are independent local democratic units which, in England and Wales, have been in existence since the Local Government Act of 1894.
Every year a Civil Parish must, by law, hold a meeting for its eligible Local Government electors – this is known as the Annual Parish meeting.
What powers does a Parish Council have?
Many . . . but in brief, a PC has the power to improve the quality of community life by spending sums of public money on things which – in their opinion – are in the interests of the Parish inhabitants. Lately, the actions of PCs have become more important as District Councils and other unitary bodies have become larger and more remote.
Parish Councillors tend to know their Parish well and represent its views to many other authorities and at public enquires.
The PC is consulted on all planning applications within the Malvern Hills District and also regarding road schemes and environmental issues within Worcestershire County.
How much does this cost?
The PC is the most unbureucratic and least expensive type of local authority in existence! Our budget is just a tiny part of the Council Tax and is called the “precept”.
We receive very little in the way of Government grants, so there is every incentive to keep expenditure low and to be economical. Our financial commitments are numerous and diverse; they include contributions to the maintenance of Astley’s burial grounds, essential subscriptions to local government and networking bodies, insurance, audit costs, grass cutting, grit for the roads in winter and maintenance of Parish property (e.g. the war and Baldwin memorials), contributions towards the upkeep of our footpaths and bridleways, the services of the Parish Clerk and (by no means least!) repayment of the loan taken out to build our excellent Village Hall.
Who controls the PC?
Well . . . you actually! The PC is a small “local authority” and councillors are elected for a 4-year term in the same way as other councils. The public will always be notified of an election – which are usually held at the same time as District or County Council elections – and anyone wishing to stand to serve their community, simply informs the Clerk of their intention . . . and the application forms will follow!
All meetings of the PC are open to the public and everyone has an opportunity to “have their say” at every meeting.