ABOUT THE COUNCIL
What Is It?
The council is a civil parish council, not connected to the Church in any way. It is made up of seven councillors who must be local people plus a part-time parish clerk who looks after the administration and communications. Its object is to represent the interests of local residents in the running of their parish. Elections take place for the posts on the council every four years when all voters in the parish may vote.
The council meets every other month at 7.30 in the evening, usually on the third Wednesday. In the past they have been held in the vestry of St Francis of Assisi Church in Saxon Green (off Parkway). Meetings are open to members of the public who may speak at the meeting – please let the clerk know if you are planning to speak and about what a week before the meeting - and are attended by the councillors and clerk and, often by district and county councillors who advise, assist with issues and report on local matters. District council officers also attend from time to time to brief councillors on policy and local developments. Additional meetings are held as required (for instance to consider major planning applications). An Annual Meeting, at which the public is encouraged to attend particularly, is held in April or May each year.
The council has a (very) small “budget” funded by a “precept” charged to each house as part of the council tax. It may also apply for money from a number of other funds mostly connected to levies on conditions for the granting of planning permissions and grants from central government. It spends this for the good of the community and to pay for its administration.
The parish council must act within a framework set out in law. It may take responsibity for issues such as road safety, maintenance of some of the leisure facilities and street furniture and cleanliness of the parish and supports local amenities and events. It reviews and comments on, as necessary, all planning applications made for property in the parish. It ensures that services provided by other bodies, such as the district or county councils or bus companies or police serve the parish properly. It is responsible for consulting on and generating the “parish plan” which is a “material consideration” when local planning authorities consider a planning policy or application. Sedgemoor District Council provides support and training for council members.
Parish Councillors are not paid; they are obliged to attend council meetings and have to follow a code of conduct, similar to district and county councillors, focused on serving the interest of their local residents without favour. They represent the parish on “cluster groups” that co-ordinate policy with neighbouring parishes and the district council and on forums such as those set up by EDF and National Grid to seek local feedback on plans that affect the parish.