A PARISH COUNCIL FOR THE FUTURE
Many of you are familiar with the wonderful TV show, ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ and the extremely funny depiction of the Parish Council at work.
We like to think that Down Ampney Parish Council does not operate on the same footing and, sadly, our own popular local vicar is not part of the proceedings. Similarly, whilst we are all ‘maturing’ it is not a bunch of ‘Old F**ts’ who make up the complement of our committee.
Sadly the perception of ‘being on the Parish Council’ does not sit well with DA residents and only a small number of volunteers sit here and that number is now dwindling.
WHAT ARE THE REPONSIBILITIES OF THE PARISH COUNCIL
- To collect and administer the ‘Precept’ money allocated to the community via CDC
- To ensure that the parish assets are in good order (eg, the hub, monuments, playground etc)
- To inspect and maintain those items above to ensure that they conform to Health & Safety guidelines and being fit for purpose. Your PC can achieve much for the village, such as, with great help from people in the village and others, raising the necessary money to repair the playground. If this has not been achieved there was a good chance that the playground would have to close.
- We give comment and recommendations to CDC on planning matters such as local housing development and extensions/alterations. We also participate in the development of the Neighbourhood Plan that is essential to ensure that our village is not spoilt by over-development.
- Parish Councillors are elected officials who, by law, must comply with honesty and impartiality. They must act in the best interest of all residents without fear or favour. Each anniversary there must be an audit of accounts and actions taken by councillors that would be regulated by CDC.
BEING A PARISH COUNCILLOR
The job of being a councillor is not an onerous one. It requires some dedication in the attention given to that task set for the individual.
Meetings are scheduled bi-monthly and usually last for about two hours dependant on agenda content. Reports and comment are noted by the Parish Clerk with minutes circulated by posting on the notice boards and on the village notice boards.
Councillors are required to take appropriate action on any points made during the meeting OR by other contact with residents should a problem arise.
WHY BECOME A PARISH COUNCIL
There are some that believe that to become a councillor is to exercise a degree of power within a community. This is certainly not the case. There is need for tolerance, a capacity to listen, a capacity to think for the general good. And above all being honest with yourself and with others.
In participating in the Council’s work there is a satisfaction of getting the community together and caring for the environment. It may sometimes be frustrating, particularly when there are obstacles put in your way but with a sense of achievement when things go well.
THE AGE THING
How often do we hear that ‘I do not have time’ being given as an excuse of not wishing to become a councillor. It is accepted that some have family or business commitments that inhibit how much spare time they can devote to outside matters. In general, however, it is, unfortunately, apathy that is the root cause that prevents people from standing up to the parapet.
To be a ‘councillor’ one needs to be over 18 and living in the parish.
Generally it is found that retired people, who have the time and enjoy being involved in community affairs, come forward. However, it is absolutely necessary that we must recruit younger members as they instil vigour and a fresh perspective on village life.
We ask ‘Where are they and why are they not interested in their community?’
Following the adage of ‘Your Country Needs You’ we need fresh blood to come forward and become a member of a committee that collects and spends your money whilst caring for the village as a whole.
Without your Parish Council CDC will be forced to take over and we fear the community spirit will be lost and much of the good work won’t get done.
If you are interested in your community and would like to consider becoming a Parish Councillor please contact either the Parish Clerk-