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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 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.

Sustainable Sunningdale

The Parish Council has been particularly active in the important area of the environment since 2009.

One of the first steps was to install a log boiler at the Parish office in 2009 to reduce our carbon footprint from the previous electric heating,  and to use Ecotricity as a renewable energy supplier.

We subsequently became affiliated to Ascot Community Environment Network (ASCENT) which was formed in December 2010, and we work closely with them.

The Parish Council continues to take up such measures as might influence our community to change their lifestyle to reduce their use of fossil fuels and be aware of the potential impact of climate change on our community. This includes championing recycling and litter picking in our area and promoting initiatives through the Parish newsletter.

Sustainable Sunningdale bulletins have been posted regularly on the council website. Copies of these bulletins from the old website, which stretch from September 2009 to June 2014, can be found in this pdf file.

February 2015 News

Some 2015 dates for your diary
Annual Parish Meeting on March 25th; General and Local Elections on May 7th; Lynwood Fete on July 4th; and the Sunningdale Area Carnival on September 13th.
posted February 4th, 2015.

Charges for 2015-2016.
Council has agreed that there will be no increase in burial costs or in the rate for hiring the Community Room in the forthcoming financial year. The annual allotment rent for a standard plot will increase by 50p, taking it to £16.
posted February 5th, 2015.

Allotment rents for 2015-2016
Rents are now due. Payments should be received from plot holders by Monday March 2nd, 2015.
posted February 14th, 2015.

Berkshire Carers Service newsletter
The latest newsletter (February – April 2015) is now available. It can be downloaded here.
posted February 14th, 2015.

Ascot Area Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter (February 2015)
This is currently being delivered to local residents. It includes important information on the closure of the Ascot Neighbourhood Watch Association, but not of Neighbourhood Watch. The online version can be viewed here.
posted February 22nd, 2015.

RBWM’s Recycling Guide
Printed copies of this guide were delivered to households in February 2015. Here is the online version.
posted February 27th, 2015.

January 2015 News

Fit for Life
Fit for Life is an RBWM project whose aim is to encourage individuals to be more active. The project will run for 3 years with a grant from Sport England’s Community Sport Activation Fund (via the National Lottery Funding). Fit for Life Week, which will run from January 17th to the 25th, will allow residents to sample activities across the borough. In Sunningdale, Charters Leisure will offer Gym while Lynwood will have Aerobics for the over 50s. Both are free. Check the precise details in the leaflet (obtainable from the parish council office) or by looking at the website.
posted January 6th, 2015.

Blacknest car park re-opens
blacknestcarparkVirginia Water Lake walkers who use this car park may like to know that it has now re-opened after being closed for three months while major renovation work took place. The tariffs and methods of payment are now the same as the main car park on the A30. The car park is now known as Virginia Water South.
posted January 11th, 2015.

All About Local Councils.
This booklet gives simplified explanations about the role and work of local councils and their councillors, explains the electoral process and provides a number of case studies, highlighting the work of a selection of local councils. Click here to browse the online version.
posted January 25th, 2014.

December 2014 News

picasion.com_bd41aa7aacba46ebc868455dd3da9eafChristmas Celebration.
The annual Christmas Lights event took place on 28 November. We were blessed by fine weather, so the crowds came out to enjoy the hospitality of the shops in Sunningdale and to see Sir Bruce and Lady Forsyth switch on the lights. Sir Bruce entertained the crowd by doing an impromptu Q&A session including the inevitable question on the Christmas edition of “Strictly”. The other star of the show was Martha Collison, from the Great Bakeoff show, who decorated biscuits with the children in Fegos, while other children enjoyed seeing real reindeer and talking to Father Christmas. The children from Holy Trinity and Sunningdale Schools came to sing for us and bring on the Christmas spirit.The Parish Council was delighted to work with all the traders in Sunningdale, many of whom were open and laid on the mullied wine and pies for us all to enjoy.
posted December 31st, 2014.

Free Trees
The Borough is giving away 5,000 free trees on a first come, first served basis. There will be 800 available at Broomhall Recreation Ground from December 8th until December 24th, 2014. To pick up a tree, along with a stake and a shrub guard, simply cut out the voucher on P.31 of the latest Around the Royal Borough newspaper and present it at the Rec. The tree species available are native, both to enhance the underlying character of the area and to benefit wildlife. The Borough has produced guidance on what species will do well on which soil type. Click on the map where your house is to find out. Further information about the offer can be found here.
posted December 4th, 2014.

Sunningdale Park
Owned by HM Government, it has been the home of the Civil Service College and later the National School of Government since 1950. The site at present continues to be operated by our partners, De Vere Venues. At present the Government Property Unit is looking for potential opportunities for the future of Sunningdale Park. An information event was held at Sunningdale Park, Larch Avenue, 3rd – 4th December to update local people on the Development Opportunity Brief, which can be accessed from the front page of this site.
posted December 4th, 2014. updated December 18th, 2014.

Waste collection schedule
Changes to the waste collection days over Christmas 2014 and the public holiday periods in 2015 can be found here.
posted December 4th, 2014.

RBWM to extend green garden waste service
This service has been working at capacity recently. However, the Borough is to extend the service from February 2015. Details can be found here.
posted December 17th, 2014.

Recycling real Christmas trees
After the celebrations Christmas trees can be left at Broomhall Recreation Ground between Monday January 5th and Monday January 19th, 2015. They will be removed, shredded and composted by the borough. Please remove all decorations. This facility only applies to real trees, not to artificial ones, of course.
posted December 1st, 2014.

Registering to vote
There will be various votes during 2015, including local elections and the General Election. Please ensure that you are registered to vote. It is now possible to register online. Read the web page on IER (Individual Electoral Registration) for further information.
posted December 2nd, 2014.

How to become a parish councillor
Some councillors will be retiring in 2015. If you are interested in becoming a councillor then read this article from the Electoral Commission, and contact the borough or the parish council by email.
posted December 2nd, 2014.

The Community Garden
November was a wet month with approximately 50% more rain than the 30 year average for November (1981-2010). This has limited the opportunities to work on the plot. Weather permitting, here is a list of possible winter jobs on your plot.
posted December 5th, 2014.