Committees, Working Parties & Roles

Guide to Parish Council Committees

A Council does not have to appoint committees[1], but sometimes the delegation of work can make life easier and enable it to run more efficiently and be more focused.

Committee structure

 

We have two committees with delegated powers:

  • Planning to make timely decisions on planning applications;
  • Environment & Premises to spend an agreed annual budget.

The specific responsibilities of these committees are set out in their agreed Terms of Reference. The members of these committees are approved by the full council, lay members are permitted, but have no voting rights. The minutes of these committees are formally received at each Parish Council meeting and put on the website along with the rest of the agenda reports.

There are also two advisory committees, who make recommendations to the full council. The chairs of Planning, Environment & Premises automatically become members of the Finance Committee, as do the Council Chair, Vice Chair and Responsible Finance Officer. A sub-committee looks at staffing issues.  There is also a Communications Working Party, set up temporarily, to assess the Council’s interaction with residents & organisations and advise on any improvements.

[1] Local Government Act 1972, s. 101 (1)(a)

Working Party and Committee Makeup & Responsibilities

Working Parties, Committees & Sub-committees exist within the Parish Council (which meets on the 4th Wednesday of the month at 7:30 pm), under the following headings:

  • Finance, Policy & Personnel Advisory Committee with responsibility for financial advisory, grant applications, tender analysis, contracts & resource functions.  Meets on the Tuesday week prior to the Council meeting (not a public meeting).
  • Environment & Highways Committee – with responsibility for footpaths, roadways, hedges, trees, bus shelters, public notice boards, public seating and handyman work scheduling.  See Terms of Reference.  Meets on 2nd Thursday of the month at 5:30 pm.
  • Planning & Development Committee – with responsibility for planning reviews, project outline specifications, Village Design Statement and Village Development Strategy.  See Terms of Reference.  Meets on 3rd Wednesday of the month at 7:30 pm.
  • Staffing Sub-committee – with oversight of staff contracts, performance etc…  Meets as and when required.
  • Communications Working Party – to assess the Council’s interaction with residents & organisations and advise on any improvements. Meets as and when required in order to review the Community Engagement, Policy & Action Plan.

Dates & timings of meetings may change from time-to-time, please check the calendar in advance of attendance.

The current membership of these groups is shown on the contacts page; where practical, each member will be on at least two groups.

Chairman’s Role.

The Parish Council has a unique role in the community. It may have limited statutory powers, but it is the only authority that can truly champion – at a very local level – a sense of place and community which upper tier authorities such as CBC and ECC cannot by virtue of their wider responsibilities. The Parish Council may be a third tier local authority, but aims to provide first class support for its community! My role as Chair to implant our unique sense of Place in the minds of everyone I meet and help achieve a better quality of life for all our residents.

Local Government, and indeed public services in Essex generally, are often complex and confusing to residents The Parish Council can and should help residents navigate this, often bewildering set of responsibilities. It can do this in a number of ways, it can be a first port of call for all manner of issues that the community wishes to raise, and it can champion these to the relevant authorities. Sometimes it can directly assist through the funding received through grants and the precept, but most frequently it can assist by talking to residents and engaging as individuals in community life and discussing matters at committee or full council meetings. You will find that all the Parish Councillors are also strong supporters of other community groups, clubs and societies that are a feature of our thriving village and parish life.

My role as a new Chairman is to make the most of these opportunities and to make sure that the Parish Council is well informed as to the key concerns of its residents and involves them as best it can in its work and to represent them as required.

In my term of office I hope to do this in a number of ways:

  • Making the Council processes and the way decisions are taken as clear as is possible, continuing the good work started by my predecessor John Gili-Ross in achieving a Quality Status standing for the Parish Council. On this website you will be able to find out all our policies and processes to which we add good practise addendums at regular intervals
  • To participate in the new opportunities available under the Localism Act. As the Chair of the  Neighbourhood Plan Group I will endeavour to get the best forward plan for the parish, which protects its history and environment whilst doing our bit to create a sustainable community. Again this work is on the website
  • To work with my fellow Councillors to have committees and sub-committees which make sense to the community and which have the time and resources to examine often quite small matters in sufficient detail to make a difference to our environment. You will find the dates and roles and responsibilities outlined above.
  • To work with other groups in the village such that the work of the Council dovetails as necessary with other groups
  • To represent the Council at meetings and events which require our interest and input and to liaise with our Borough and County Councillors as well as other leaders in the public sector.
  • To promote the work of the Council through opportunities such as joint initiatives with Essex County Council, Colchester Borough Council the RCCE and NALC and through participation in initiatives such as the Village of the Year competition.

On a day-to-day basis, I will be involved not just with the running of the Council and at the Parish Council meetings, but also in my role of:

  • Chair of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group,
  • Member of the Planning and Development Committee,
  • Member of the Colchester Association of Local Councils,
  • Committee member of the Friends of Hillhouse Wood.

I am happy to be approached on any matter of concern to residents and to help them resolve queries and concerns aided by the Clerk and her staff and the great team of Parish Councillors.

Chris Stevenson
September 2015

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