Hoyle Copse

Stoke Gabriel Parish Council Elections 2nd May 2019

What is a Parish Council? 

A parish council is a local authority that makes decisions on behalf of the people in the parish. It is the level of government closest to the community, with the district authority (South Hams District Council) above it in the hierarchy.
As it is the authority closest to the people, parish councils are invariably the first place people will go with concerns or ideas. For this reason they are a vital part of any community. 

Why become a Parish Councillor? 

If you’ve never been to a parish council meeting before, you may be forgiven for thinking that parish councillors are a group of people who meet now and then in a draughty village hall. If, however, you live in a community where something ‘big’ has happened, you’ll know that when people in the community need support and guidance, it is sometimes the parish council that they turn to. 

By becoming a parish councillor you become someone your community will look to for help, guidance and support - a community leader with the power to influence decisions for the benefit of the people you serve. Seeing your community change for the better, as a result of decisions you have helped make, is something that can give you a sense of achievement and pride. 

What decisions do Parish Councils make? 

Parish councils make all kinds of decisions on issues that affect the local community. Probably the most common topics that parish councils get involved with are planning matters (they are statutory consultees), crime prevention, managing open spaces  and campaigning for and delivering better services and facilities. 

It’s true to say that on their own, parish councils have limited powers to make decisions. But they do have the ability to negotiate with, and the power to influence, those other organisations that do make the final decisions (such as the District and County councils, health authority, police etc.). 

In this respect parish councils are powerful. The organisations that make the final decisions know that a parish council gives the best reflection of how a community feels about something, and its views will be taken seriously. 

What powers do parish councils have?
They have a wide range of powers which essentially related to local matters, such as looking after community buildings, open space, allotments, play areas, street lighting, bus shelters, car parks and more. The council also has the power to raise money through taxation, the precept. The precept is the parish council’s share of the council tax. The precept demand goes to the billing authority, the district council, which collects the tax for the parish council.

How much time does it take up? 

The Parish Council usually meets once a month for the council meeting, to which members of the public are also invited. Meetings may last two hours or so, depending on the agenda and once a year the Annual Parish Meeting is held. Occasionally, the council will form a working party to investigate specific subjects, such as housing and environmental issues. 

How long does a parish councillor serve for? 

Once elected, parish councillors sit on the council for a maximum of four years. If they then want to stay in the post they can stand for re-election. 

Stoke Gabriel Parish Council meets 10 times a year, on the fourth Monday of the month (no meetings in August and December ). Full Council meetings start at 7.00 and should normally be over by 9.00 with a short Planning working party preceding from 6.30pm.

You may be invited to join one or more of the Parish Council’s committees, which look after Footpaths, Planning, Finance and various other aspect of council business. These committees work increasingly by email, but hold occasional meetings. Site visits, for example to keep an eye on play equipment or developments, are also needed from time to time.

A lot of what the Council does is common sense, but we do run a short induction session for new councillors, and Devon Association of of Local Councils (DALC) runs training workshops.

Am I eligible to be a Parish Councillor? 

To stand for election on a parish council, you must:

be a UK or commonwealth citizen, or
be a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, or;
be a citizen of another Member state of the European Union;
be a least 18 years old. 

To be eligible to stand for an election for a particular parish, you must:

be an elector of the parish, or;
 for the whole of the previous 12 months have occupied (as owner or tenant) land
 or other premises in the parish, or; 
during the previous 12 months have worked in the parish (as your principal or only place of work), or; 
for the whole of the previous 12 months lived in the parish or within three miles  of the parish boundary.

If you do become a parish councillor you will have to sign up to the Code of Conduct.

Don’t take our word for it! 

 1 The best way to find out what it’s like to be a parish councillor is to talk to someone who’s doing it now , come along to a parish council meeting, or speak to one of our councillors and find out what they think of the job. 

2 Alternatively - why not email the Clerk ( karen@jollylane.net ) or phone the Clerk for advice and information ( 01364 631031 )

3 Important election notices will appear on the Noticeboards and on the website  from the end of March

For more online information , follow this link