A Parish Council is a corporate body whose actions are subject to much legislation over the years. It is a non-political Council dedicated to improving the quality of life for those living and working in the village. Sunningdale is a medium sized Parish of some 3,700 electors and an annual Precept of £91,500 in 2016/17.
The Parish Council consists of ten Councillors. There is currently one vacancy. Councillors are part of the democratic framework of the country representing the interests of your community within a broad landscape of national governance.
Work of the Parish Council and 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. It is subject to rules on what it must do by law, and what it may only do if it has the powers in law. The Clerk is the proper officer of Council with responsibility for drawing up the agenda of Council, and ensuring that Council’s decisions are implemented.
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.
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. Councillors attend Planning Committee meetings every 28 days and take on the responsibility for other aspects of the Committee work such as Allotments, Borough in Bloom, Highways, Cemetery, Footpaths or Neighbourhood Action Groups. The Parish Council has completed its Business Plan with its priorities for the coming years.
The Parish owns the Village Hall which operates as a registered charity with two Trustees from the Parish Council. The recreation ground, the allotments, and the cemetery are all owned and managed by the Parish Council. Council employs a Grounds Manager to upkeep the properties of Parish Council.
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.
The Parish works with the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead on a range of civil matters which range from street cleaning, footpath maintenance, road maintenance, and many other issues. There is close co-operation with the Borough and regular attendance at some Borough meetings, such as the Parish Conference and Development Control Panel. Under the Localism Act there is increasing pressure to devolve decision making to the Parishes and to enhance the professional response of Council on a wide range of issues.
Sunningdale Parish Council with the neighbouring Parish of Sunninghill and Ascot has an adopted Neighbourhood Plan, which passed referendum in March 2014 and was subsequently adopted by RBWM. Planning matters take up a significant portion of Council’s time and resource.
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.
We hope that this helps you to understand the role of a parish councillor. Please do not hesitate to contact the clerk at Sunningdale Parish Council if you require any further information.
If you might be interested please go to 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.
Contact: Phone 01344 874268 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Committees for 2016-2017 (as of October 11, 2016)
Finance Committee Robin Booth (Chairman), Valerie Pike, Anne-Catherine Buxton, Yvonne Jacklin
Planning Committee Yvonne Jacklin and Michael Burn, Joint Chairs
Recreation and Property Committee Valerie Pike, Mary Sayer and Anne Brindle
Projects Lilly Evans, Robin Booth, Valeries Pike, Mary Sayer and Anne-Catherine Buxton (co-opted member)
Christmas Working Group Valerie Pike, Anne Brindle, Mary Sayer and Anne-Catherine Buxton.
Allotments Mary Sayer
Borough in Bloom Valerie Pike
Cemetery Robin Booth
Footpaths Rosie Swaine
Highways / Infrastructure Lilly Evans
Police Neighbourhood Action Group Graeme Kennedy
Tree Warden Michael Burn
Village Hall Trustees Robin Booth and Rosemarie Nash.
Charters Leisure Centre Valerie Pike
Charters Youth Management Anne-Catherine Buxton
Holy Trinity School Yvonne Jackson
Sunningdale Traders Ass.
Charters School Anne Brindle
Lorry Watch Gary Evans.