Elections and the Role of Councillors

Parish Council elections May 2015

Sunningdale Parish Council is a non-political Council dedicated to improving the quality of life for those living and working in the village.

Seven people have put their name forward, and this being less than the ten vacancies, the seven will be elected unopposed on 7 May.  The Council must then co-opt to fill the 3 remaining vacancies.

There are rules on the eligibility of residents to stand for the public office of Councillor. The full set of eligibility criteria can be requested from the Clerk. In summary, a person must be an elector of 18 years of age or over, must have resided for 12 months in the parish or within three miles of it; and must not have been convicted and imprisoned within five years of the election.

Role of Councillors

The Parish Council meets once a month to take decisions affecting all aspects of life in the Parish, establishing policies for action, and deciding how much will be raised and spent on behalf of the community. It is responsible for spending public money lawfully and achieving the best value for money.

The Parish Council has four main Committees: Planning, Finance, Projects,  and Recreation and Property. It also convenes working groups for other tasks as they arise, such as for projects and events. Councillors attend Planning Committee meetings every 28 days and take on the responsibility for other aspects of the Committee work. The Parish Council has drawn up its Business Plan with its priorities for the coming years.

The role involves Councillors seeking and representing the views of local residents, schools, church, and traders association on a variety of matters affecting the local community; identifying the needs of the Parish through a project and finding ways of resolving this; setting the Annual Precept to meet these needs, and managing the Parish Council’s assets and finances effectively.

If you might be interested in being co-opted for Council please contact the clerk as soon as possible.

A successful local council depends for its success on the councillors, as well as the Chair and the Clerk, each playing complementary roles to ensure that Council devises appropriate policies and the clerk carries them out. There is a budget for training of Councillors to ensure they are adequately briefed to carry out their function.

The role of a Councillor includes the following:

  • Setting the budget. There is a statutory requirement for all councils to prepare an annual budget. Most policy decisions of the council have financial implications and these need to be considered as policy is made.
  • Making management policy decisions in Council and ensuring that decisions taken by Council are properly implemented.
  • Responsible for community engagement with local organisation such as the schools
  • Councillors have a role in representing the views of the Council or the community such as at Rural Development Control Panel.
    To suggest new initiatives or developments of existing policies, such as taking forward projects that come forward through the Neighbourhood Plan, and using new development funds wisely in our locality.
  • To ensure that the views of the community are put to the relevant persons or bodies, and that the special interests of the community are protected and promoted.

We hope that this article has been useful in helping you to understand the election process and the role of a parish councillor. Please do not hesitate to contact the Clerk at Sunningdale Parish Council if you require any further information.

To find out more please go to the NALC website http://www.nalc.gov.uk/Publications and look at the publications including “It takes all sorts” and Local Councils Explained. It can be very helpful to understand the work involved, but also how rewarding the role can be. We would be happy to talk this through with you so that your expectations are well matched to the tasks and processes of Council.