The West Bergholt Parish Council consists of 11 Parish Councillors (see the contacts page), who are responsible for administering a significant budget for the benefit of the local community. The Parish Council has powers to provide local infrastructure such as allotments, play areas, village halls and, by being closer to the local community, can more easily meet local needs. Importantly the Parish Council is also entitled to be consulted on any planning applications that affect the village.
The Parish Council meets every fourth Wednesday of each month except August and December. The Agenda for each meeting is posted on the notice boards at least five clear days before the meeting. All minutes and annual reports of the Parish Council and its sub-committees can be found here together with the most recent agendas.
The Parish Council is part of open-government and meetings are open to the public except in specific circumstances where it is appropriate that agenda items must be addressed in a closed forum. On these rare occasions, details of the closed elements will be announced when the meeting agenda is issued.
In 2009 the Parish Council introduced a 15-minute “Have Your Say”’ session at the start of all council meetings, for members of the public to voice their issues and concerns. The council will address issues or concerns raised by the public prior to the next council meeting.
The Parish Clerk is a statutory position and is paid for by the community through the general council tax bill. An element of each council tax bill for each household in the village, known as a Precept, helps pay for the Clerk’s salary as well as other operating costs incurred in the running of the village.
Becoming a Parish Councillor
Elections to the parish council are held every 4 years when each Councillor is subject to re-election. They are not held if 11 or less residents apply to be elected to the Council. At other times, when casual vacancies arise, new councillors can be co-opted.
Eligibility for Office
A person is eligible for office if they are:
- a European national,
- at least eighteen years old and
- an elector (although not necessarily in the parish).
In addition, they must have resided in the locality of West Bergholt or within 3 miles of it for twelve months prior to being nominated as a candidate or the day of the election. Similarly, they may be someone with land, as owner or tenant, or with a primary place of business within said 3 miles.
A person may be disqualified from being elected if they:
- hold a paid office in the council or under a company controlled by the council.
- are subject to a bankruptcy restriction order.
- have, within 5 years of the election, or since, been convicted in the United Kingdom, the Channel Isles or the Isle of Man of any offence and has been sentenced to not less than 3 months’ imprisonment (whether suspended or not) without the option of a fine.
- are convicted of offences involving corrupt or illegal practices.
- have been convicted for the failure to register or declare disclosable interests under the Localism Act 2011.
West Bergholt Parish Council is the sole trustee of five village Charities; upon joining the Parish Council members automatically become a Trustee:
- Orpen Memorial Hall (which includes the John Lampon Hall)
- Lorkin Daniell Playing Field
- Village Green (land to the front of Heathlands)
- Poors Land (recreational area to the rear of Heathlands)
Parish & Neighbourhood Planning
The 2011 Localism Act introduces many new powers and capabilities for the Parish Council to use if it desires; they include:
- Neighbourhood planning – details where village development is acceptable,
- Control of community assets – including right to Buy and Build,
- Provision of services previously reserved for CBC or ECC.
The Parish Council adopted a Parish Plan in 2008 by a Parish Plan Committee formed from members of the village community. The Council uses the Parish Plan to inform and guide its work in the future; it also gives residents a broader idea of how the village might develop. You can review a copy of the Parish Plan which has been adopted. The Parish Plan helps develop the strategy of the village and many items identified through the plan have been implemented since its production.
West Bergholt has a Village Design Statement produced by a community sub-committee. The Parish Council adopted this Statement and put it forward to Colchester Borough Council for it’s adoption as Supplementary Planning Guidance.
A Neighourhood Plan has been produced and has been approved by Colchester Borough Council.