The Parish Council
The Parish Council is a small local authority. Its councillors are elected for four years at a time. Vacancies occurring between elections are filled by bye-election (if requested) or co-option.
Each year the councillors choose a chairman from amongst their number. There is also a vice-chairman and a clerk, who is the proper officer and the responsible finance officer of the council.
Parish councils have a number of formal powers. Blisworth Parish Council provide allotments, dog bins, street lighting, grass cutting and village noticeboards. The Parish Council can do these things by actually providing them itself, or by helping someone else (such as a charity or volunteers) financially to do so. Parish Councils have the power to improve the quality of community life by spending sums of money on things which, in their opinion, are in the interests of the parish or its inhabitants.
Councils are also the focal point for local consultation on matters such as planning applications and Borough Council strategic planning. The Parish Councillors know the village and can represent parish views to other authorities such as District and County Councils. They are entitled to be consulted on planning applications and are often consulted on things like schools and roads.
How much do they cost?
Parish councils are the most unbureaucratic and cheapest kind of local authority in existence. Their funds are a tiny part of the council tax. They get no general government grant, and so have every incentive to be economical. The accounts are strictly audited every year by an internal auditor and the Audit Commission.
Who controls the Parish Council?
You do! You elect its members every four years and you are entitled to go to both the monthly Parish Council Meetings and the Annual Parish Meeting to say what you think.
Parish Councillors also have to abide by the Standards Code of Conduct which places a general obligation on parish councils to “promote and maintain high standards of conduct by members and co-opted members of the authority”.