Historically, Parish Councils are a thousand years old (A Thousand Years of the English Parish, published by The Windrush Press e-mail: windrush@windrush press.com makes interesting reading). The word parish, it states, has two meanings: a spiritual care of a group of people and a territory with definitive boundaries.
Stanton under Bardon has five seats for Councillors and these come up for election every four years. If more than five candidates properly qualified (e.g. age over 18, citizen of Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland or another member of the European Community and a local government elector of the parish; or occupy land or premises in the parish or within three miles of it for the previous twelve months and avoiding disqualification) are nominated, then there is an election.
The Parish Council meets every month on the first Tuesday. Meetings are in the Village Hall starting at 7.00 p.m. These meetings are open to the public and generally this implies observing without interrupting. However there is a section at the beginning of each meeting when anyone may raise matters with the Parish Council. If the matter has either legal or financial implication it may need to be tabled for the next agenda however the Chairman will give guidance on this at the meeting. Residents can also write to the Clerk if they want to raise a matter.
Once a year and otherwise at the discretion of the Parish Council, Parish or Public Meetings are held. At these, members of the public have a chance to question and comment on any matter of concern. This is an opportunity for the Council to report to the Parish and explain policies.
The Parish Council is the first stage in the democratic process, and aims to care for all the affairs of the Parish and ensure that, at all times, statutory requirements are met. In order to do this, close liaison is maintained with the rest of the local authorities, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough and Leicestershireshire County Council, the Environment Agency, Leicestershire Constabulary, Water and Electricity suppliers and so on.
For the benefit of the Parishioners the Parish Council administers public funds to provide public seats, litter bins and such. It then contracts for some public services like grass cutting the playing field. The roads, pavements, other fences, hedging and tree lopping are the duty of the County or Borough Council or landowner. This similarly is the case of the waterways.
Although in the past the Parish Council has invested in building the Village Hall, it is a separate charitable institution with its own constitution.
The Parish Council has no power over planning in the Village but is asked to comment on proposals and to make a recommendation to the Borough Council on the outcome. The Parish Council considers these from the point of view of the general welfare of the village, but individuals should write direct to the Planning Department of the Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council and when possible the Council will make the plans available to residents to view.
The parish budgets each year for the next and requires a sum of money called the precept. This comes via the Borough Council from the money it collects as Council Tax. This is administered by the Responsible Finance Officer, and approved by the Parish Council before strict audit by the Public Auditor. Therefore, the Councillors, after all their effort and unpaid service, are very disappointed when vandalism destroys public property, doubling the cost and effort to restore. Remember that it's your money that is at risk.