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Egerton Parish Council

Councillors Role

EGERTON PARISH COUNCIL
 

Egerton Parish Council (EPC) is one of 10,000 parish and town councils based in
England’s rural areas. Parish councils are the most locally elected body within the
English system of local government. They are an essential part of the structure of local
democracy and have a vital role in acting on behalf of the communities they represent.
Most parish councils grew from ecclesiastical parishes but the two functions of civil and
ecclesiastical parish were split by law in the 19th century. They now represent some 16
million people.
 

Decisions taken – and views expressed to higher authorities – by EPC affect our
environment, communications, safety and enjoyment. That’s why Parish Councillors live
in the village, seeking to serve local people. Through fact-finding, consultation, debate
and careful decision-making they aim to meet the overarching objective of enhancing
Egerton as a thriving and cohesive community, with regard to its unique character yet
recognising its interdependence with other areas and people.
Members of the public are welcome to attend meetings in the Committee Room of the
Millenium Village Hall at 8pm on the first Tuesday of each month. Time is set aside for
open questions.
 

Who runs Egerton Parish Council?


The local community elects parish councillors for four-year terms. In Egerton, the last
election was in May 2015 (in many areas the elections are not contested). Parish
Councils may pay their councillors an allowance, but, like many other parishes, Egerton
Parish Councillors decided not to do this.
 

As in many parishes, Egerton has a paid clerk to support the parish council for 12 hours
a week. Bigger councils may employ more staff particularly where they are delivering
public services or running special projects.
 

The present composition is: Chairman Richard King, Vice Chairman Peter Rawlinson, members:
Jennifer Buchanan, Claire Foinette, Ambrose Oliver, Tim Oliver, Patt Parr, Alison Richeyand
Rob Walker. The Clerk is Heather James.
 

Recent research found that 26% of parish councillors are also serving councillors for a
district, county or unitary local authority. This dual role can be an advantage in
facilitating links with the principal authorities.


What does Egerton Parish Council do?


EPC has a range of functions that are permitted by statute. These include:
• Provision, inspection and maintenance of local amenities such as recreational
facilities (eg recreation ground and the Glebe, its trees, car park, play area,
skateboard park – the EPC owns the land on which the Millenium Village hall is
situated although the Hall management rests with the Hall Management
Committee – the Games Barn management is delegated to a sub committee of
EPC), bus shelters, benches, noticeboards and village sign ;
• Providing or contributing to public services such as entertainment (eg Glebe Fair);
lighting on its land (eg the steps from the car park to Rock Hill and to Elm Close);
• Funding community transport schemes (Wealden Wheels);
• Street cleaning and provision of litter bins and recycling facilities.

Parish councils have a right to be notified about planning applications submitted to
Ashford Borough Council (the local planning authority). On behalf of the community,
EPC feeds back views to ABC on applications and other proposals that affect the
parish. In considering applications, EPC’s purpose is to ensure that:
• they fulfil EPC’s understanding of current planning law and Conservation Area
or listed building status;
• they satisfy local and County/Regional structure plans;
• they meet the principles of Egerton’s Village Design Statement to maintain and
enhance the character of the village;
• they aid Egerton’s prosperity;
• their views are even-handed and impartial.
 

EPC has campaigned both for and against developments within or around the parish.
For example, in prompting a survey on housing needs, EPC worked with ABC and rural
housing providers to help identify appropriate sites and is involved in the design and
scope of affordable housing. In other instances, EPC has registered its objections to
proposed development which is out of scale to existing buildings and unsympathetic
to the environment and /or the character of its surroundings.
 

In addition, EPC may (and does):


• undertake projects and schemes that benefit local residents
• work in partnership with other bodies, associations or clubs inside and outside
the parish to achieve benefits for the parish
• alert relevant authorities to problems that arise or work that needs to be
undertaken
• help the other tiers of government and its agencies keep in touch with their local
communities by commenting on consultation documents or drawing matters to
their attention
• offer financial support and encouragement to local organizations and community
groups, and to organisations which demonstrate a benefit to Parish residents
• comment on matters of local concern including infrastructure – highways,
drainage, utilities – and matters which may impact on the essential charm of the
village. A recent example on which EPC’s comments were sought and recorded
was ABC’s planning document about the basis on which development might be
permitted in rural areas.
• act as a focus for community representation and activity, being the soundboard,
facilitator, conduit, eyes and ears of the community
• put forward/support applications for award schemes – eg youth volunteers, rural
retailers.
 

What do councillors do?


Parish Councillors must act within the law and must sign a declaration to the effect that
they agree to abide by a Code of Conduct. Although the rules and regulations are
important, the role is much wider than that. Councillors are the voices for their local
community. They work to influence the decisions of the other tiers of local government
in Kent and other bodies that influence our way of life and affect our enjoyment of our
natural and built assets. Councillors have three main components to their work:
• Decision making – through meetings and attending committees with other
elected members, councillors decide which activities to support, how much
money should be in the budget, where money should be spent, what facilities
should be provided, what are the priorities and what policies should be
implemented.
• Monitoring – Councillors make sure that their decisions lead to efficient and
effective outcomes by keeping an eye on how well things are working and taking
appropriate action to overcome obstacles.
• Getting involved locally – as local representatives, councillors have
responsibilities towards their constituents and local organisations. These
duties often depend on what the councillor wants to achieve within the
permitted parameters and how much time is available, and may include:

  •  Going to meetings (and/or being members) of local organisations such as the

              Egerton Playing Fields Association, Hall Management Committee, Wealden
              Wheels, taking an active part in making things happen and reporting back to
              the full Council for any follow-up action

  •  Going to meetings of other bodies affecting the wider community eg Police Forum and raising concerns, reporting difficulties and assisting progress
  • Taking up issues on behalf of members of the public
  •  Meeting individual residents to discuss local concerns.

Funding
 

Parish council funds are raised mainly through a precept on Council Tax levied by
Ashford Borough Council (ABC) following a request from EPC for a sum of money to
fund its expenditure. (In 2013/14 the precept was £14,510 and in 2014/15, £16,484.
With a voting population of 875, this works out at £29.47 in the Council
Tax due per household based on Band D.) ABC also provides other annual grants worth
approx £1,700 pa. EPC’s budget is agreed in December or January; its accounts are audited annually
both independently and by the Audit Commission. The accounts are available for inspection on request.
 

Networks


Egerton Parish Council has links with a wide range of other bodies including
neighbouring parishes, Ashford Borough Council, Kent County Council, Central
Government and its agencies and other statutory authorities such as Kent Police and
the Primary Care Trust (PCT); with local Voluntary and Community Organisations and
Rural Community Councils; and local businesses.
A network of County Associations (CALCs) and a National Body (NALC) support parish
and town councils throughout England. EPC is an active member of the Kent
Association of Local Councils (KALC) and Action for Communities in Rural Kent (ACRK).


How to find out more
 

Attending a Parish Council meeting or the Annual Parish Assembly is the
best way to find out what is going on. Give the Clerk a call ON 01233 756 501 if you can’t get to the notice
boards or access the Egerton website www.egerton-kent.co.uk and find out when its
next public meeting occurs. By law, members of the public are allowed to be present for
most council business.