WHAT DO LOCAL COUNCILS AND COUNCILLORS DO?
Local (parish and town) councils and councillors make a massive difference to the quality of life of local people. They are passionate about their communities and seek to make a change to help improve the lives of their residents.
Local councils run numerous services, depending on the size of the council. Many you will see day-to-day, but some are less known. These include managing allotments and open spaces; providing play areas; looking after public seats, bus shelters, and litter bins; publishing newsletters; supporting transport initiatives; giving grants to local groups; commenting on planning applications within the Parish – to name but a few of the issues they can deal with.
Councillors are elected to represent the local community, so you must either live or work in the council area. Becoming a councillor is a rewarding experience as you will be in a position to make a change in your community to help improve the lives of residents. A councillor’s role can include responsibilities such as developing strategies and plans for the area, helping with problems and ideas, representing the community, working with other local community groups, decision making and reviewing decisions and talking to the community about their needs and about what the council is doing.
HOW TO BECOME A COUNCILLOR?
Local councils can only be as useful, connected and energetic as the people elected to run it, so we need councillors who are capable, enthusiastic and engaged to reflect their communities. You can find out more about becoming a councillor on The Electoral Commission and Local Government Association website.
There are six simple steps to becoming a councillor:
- Check for elections in your area - see information provided below
- Submit your nomination to the returning officer
- Wait for your nomination to be accepted
- Your nomination is made public by the principal authority
- Start your elections campaign.
- Polling day - Thursday 6th May 2021.
The Cabinet Office has said that the elections for all Northumberland's local [parish] councils will take place on Thursday 6th May 2021, together with those for Northumberland County Council and the Police & Crime Commissioner, using similar arrangements as in previous elections, i.e. there will be polling stations as well as postal votes. The term of office for all existing parish councillors ceases in May 2021. This means that councillors who wish to stand again will have to submit their nomination forms and register of interests forms. The timetable is subject to potential change in the current national situation. We anticipate further information will be provided as the election approaches:
- Publication of Notice of Election - Monday 29th March
- Delivery of Nomination Papers - Monday 29th March to Thursday 8th April
- Withdrawal of Nomination - Thursday 8th April
- Publication of Statement of Persons Nominated - Friday 9th April (4:00 p.m.)
- Publication of Notice of Poll and Polling Stations - Tuesday 27th April
- Return of Election Expenses - Thursday 3rd June.
This means that the identities of councillors in uncontested seats will be available on the County Council's website after 4:00 p.m. on Friday 9th April 2021.
The count for contested seats is likely to be on Saturday 8th May 2021.
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION AT MEETINGS
MEETINGS OF THE PARISH COUNCIL are currently being held remotely by video conferencing [Zoom] on the first Wednesday of each month, except January and August, commencing at 7:00 p.m. Normally, they would take place in Lynemouth Welfare Pavilion, Park Road, Lynemouth, Northumberland, NE61 5XL.
As part of the Parish Council’s commitment to improving the level of public participation in local government, members of the public are invited at the beginning of meetings to make representations or ask questions relating to the business on the agenda and should contact the Parish Clerk for the log-in details or email any written statements/questions no later than 5.00 p.m. on the day before the meeting. Members of the public are welcome to stay and observe afterwards but will not be able to join in the discussions unless invited to do so by the Chair, and they should not heckle or disrupt and should respect the rulings of the Chair who has the right to exclude a disorderly person as a last resort.
THE ROLE OF THE PARISH COUNCIL
PARISH COUNCILS can provide allotments; run play areas; look after rights of way; provide seats and shelters; publish newsletters; support rural transport initiatives; give grants to local groups; comment on planning applications within the Parish – to name but a few of the issues they can deal with.
Lynemouth has an active parish council, determined to make a real difference to the village. The key objectives are to improve village facilities, to encourage and support an active events and activities programme, to improve the village’s appearance and to represent the village’s interests.
Lynemouth Parish Council works closely with Northumberland County Council and other bodies to ensure the needs of the Parish and its residents are not overlooked. The County Councillor attends the meetings and reports on matters of interest and often liaises with Northumberland County Council on behalf of the Parish Council.
The Parish Council is a group of local people elected as community leaders to represent the views, opinions and interests of residents living in the parish. Parish Councils are the most local tier of statutory representation in England, the first tier of Local Government. They are non-party political. They bridge the gap between local authorities and communities, and help to make public bodies aware of the opinions and needs of the communities they represent. Their primary purpose is to ascertain and express the views of the community to the local authority and other public bodies.
Many Parish Councils also involve themselves in wide range of other activities including fundraising, organising community events, undertaking environmental and educational projects and much more.
The Parish Council is a statutory local authority in its own right, having a wide variety of powers and duties conferred by many statutes and, as such, undertakes a vital role within the local government system. Briefly the Parish Council’s role can be described as follows:-
The power of decision in accordance with statutory functions and duties.
For example expressing views about planning issues and consultation documents both locally and countywide.
Taking the lead on issues affecting the interests of the area, eg. highways, footpaths, general maintenance, trees, etc.
The power to raise a precept from the local inhabitants and make financial decisions which will benefit the community. The precept is collected with the Council Tax by the County Council. The Council’s income and expenditure is very closely monitored and the accounts are audited annually by independent auditors.
WHAT IS A PARISH PRECEPT?
A PARISH COUNCIL gets its funding by receiving a small amount of the local Council Tax. This is referred to as the Parish Precept.
How is the precept calculated?
Each Parish Council forecasts the amount of funding it will require for the following year and requests this funding from Northumberland County Council in the form of a precept tax that is included within the local Council Tax. A Council Tax base is calculated by equating to the number of Band D equivalent properties in each Parish after taking into account things like:
1. The number of properties in each band during the year (i.e. including the results of changes and appeals)
2. Disabled relief
3. Discounts and exemptions
4. Provision for bad or doubtful debts
5. Allowance for growth.
The tax base figures are expressed as Band D equivalents in accordance with the relevant regulations. The tax base is used to indicate the amount of Council Tax required for the Parish to cover the precept by performing the following calculation:
1. Divide the precept by the Council tax base for your Parish. This will provide you with the Council Tax for a Band D property.
2. Multiply the Band D Council Tax by the appropriate factor to calculate the Council Tax for each of the other bands.
It should be noted that in addition to any Council Tax resulting from the Parish precept there will also be Council Tax levied in respect of the County Council and the Police and Fire Authorities.
What does all this mean?
All this means that even if the Parish Council requests the same financial precept for the whole parish for the next financial year, due to changes in the number of Band D equivalent properties in the Parish, the individual precept against each property may change. This can result in the individual precept rising or falling by a small percentage even when the parish precept as a whole has not changed.
THE PARISH COUNCIL LOGO
THE PARISH is probably best known for its industrial history associated with coal-mining. The logo features a lighthouse in the shape of a miner's lamp exposed to the sea, a symbol for the village's close proximity to the sea, and was chosen as a tribute to the village's mine-workers and proud industrial heritage and in the expectation that the Parish Council will be a guiding light in the future. A horseshoe represents the ostlers or horsekeepers associated with the horses grazing in the area. It also symbolises good luck. The official motto of the Parish Council: Lumina spargo - "SPREAD LIGHT" - is very much a symbolic link to the thousands of miners that emerged from the darkness and into the light every day when they returned to the surface after working in the mine. The aspiration for a better life is emblazoned on the Lynemouth Colliery banner - 'SPREAD THE LIGHT - AND THE FUTURE IS YOURS'. Copyright © Keith Murray-Hetherington 2014