What is a Parish Council?
Not to be confused with the Parochial Church Council whose former secular/religious role was split by the 1894 Local Government Act, giving the secular role to Parish Councils making them the lowest tier of government in law with particular statutory responsibilities and duties. Members (Parish Councillors) are elected by public vote every four years.
It is a common misconception that Parish Councillors are paid for their work but the role is a voluntary one and is unpaid. All Parish Councillors are elected to office and are required to sign an ‘acceptance of office’ and then to declare any relevant interests. The Register of Interests is publicly searchable. Parish Councillors are also required to sign up to a Code of Conduct as adopted by the Council.
You can find more information about Parish Councils on the gov.uk web site, The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) the Communities, Parish and Local Councils (CPALC) web site, and this Wikipedia page.
Role of Clerk
The Parish Clerk is a statutory office holder fulfiling the role of “Proper Officer” to the council and is the council’s principal adviser, being responsible for the administration of its affairs.
The Clerk is not answerable to any individual councillor – not even the chairman – is an independent and unbiased employee of the council, recognising that the council is responsible for all decisions and taking instruction from the council as a body. If the council has other members of staff then the clerk is their line manager.
As the council’s proper officer the clerk is responsible for implementing council policy; ensuring the council acts within the law; advising the council on all aspects of its work and may have delegated powers of decision making especially in urgent situations. The Clerk can also be the Responsible Finance Officer (RFO) as is the case in Walsham le Willows.
The Clerk is registered as an employee of the Council with HMRC. The Clerk prepares and posts notices, is responsible for writing the agenda and minutes, keeps the council’s records, and deals with all correspondence. As the RFO, the clerk produces the Annual Budget and issues the Precept and Grant Requests, produces the quarterly/annual budget monitoring reports, prepares all payments for authorisation, prepares the Final Accounts and supporting documents required by the Council’s auditors, and arranges the council’s insurance.
The Clerk also has the key role of advising the council, and its members, on governance, ethical and procedural matters including the maintenance of the Council’s Standing Orders, Financial Regulations and Risk Register.
Parish Council meetings are public meetings and members of the public can attend to observe and are able to make representations to their councillors by invitation of the Chair under the usual ‘Public Open Forum’ agenda item. Members of the public are unable to take part in any other part of the meeting unless specifically invited by the Chair to comment on a particular agenda item on which they have some expertise. Sometimes the Parish Council may invite people to participate because they have some particular knowledge and expertise that would be helpful in the Council’s deliberations.
A minumum of four meetings must be held each year, including an Annual Meeting held in May. Walsham Parish Council meets on the second Tuesday of each month in the Priory Room from 7pm. If you are interested to listen or speak at the meetings, do please come along. Note meetings currently held online due to lockdown.
At least three clear days notice is given of each meeting by a posting on the notice board near the post box in front of the Bowling Club and on this page of the site.
Special annual meetings
Annual Meeting of the Parish Council (AMPC)
The Annual Meeting of the Parish Council has to be held on 4th May or any day in May other than election years (next 2023) when it must be held on the 4th day after election day or within 14 days thereof. In practice, Walsham convenes this meeting on the usual second Tuesday of the month unless proscribed otherwise by the date of the quadrennial local elections. Like all Parish Council meetings it is a public meeting.
At the Annual Meeting the first business has to be the election of the Chairman and vice-chairman. The Chair signs a Declaration of Acceptance (of office). Committee members and representatives are also appointed to other bodies. And there is a list of annual housekeeping items on the agenda. The rest of this meeting follows the usual format.
In an election year all councillors are re-elected, including Chair and Vice-Chair and all sign a Declaration of Acceptance of office.
The Annual Parish Meeting (APM)
The Annual Parish Meeting (APM) is an ‘assembly fo the Parish’ and also an annual meeting which can be held on any day from 1st March to 1st June inclusive with 7 days public notice. This is not a meeting of the Parish Council but of the electorate and there is no prescribed format. Electors can contribute to the agenda and these meetings are often used to celebrate local activities and debate current issues in the community.
The chairman of the council, any two councillors or any six electors can call the Annual Parish Meeting. Councillors do not have to attend but it is good practice to do so along with the Chairman who will preside if present and will usually present an annual report on the work of the Parish Council.
The format of this meeting is changing to encourage more attendance. As well as a brief annual report from the Chair on the work of the Parish Council, village organisations will be invited to take ‘stalls’ to promote themselves and their work in the village. They will no doubt be touting for new members as well. The Parish Council wants to use this also as an opportunity for feedback on Parish Council activities and upcoming developments like the Play & Recreation Area and anything else of concern. The Clerk is hoping also to prvide a better range of refreshments than has been the case in the recent past.
So if you are new to the village, want to meet people and find out more about village oragnisations, have some good ideas or the Parish Council, come along to the Annual Parish Meeting which is informal and a chance for the community of the Parish to get together.
|Name & Email||Address/Contact||Responsibilities|
'Responsible Financial Officer' (RFO)
Walsham le Willows
01359 259 794
|Role of Parish Clerk|
|Councillor Richard Belson|
Walsham le Willows
|Councillor Ian Bartholomew|
|2 Upper Meadow|
Walsham le Willows
|Councillor Paul Arbon||7 Oak Tree Cottages|
Walsham le Willows
07901 606 935
|Councillor Brian Kinnair||Old Oak Barn|
Walsham le Willows
Play Council Rep
|Councillor Nicholas Mecrow||Thornaby House |
Speed Indicator Device data
|Councillor Trevor Roberts||Acorn House|
Rep On Community Council
|Vacant||Vacant||Street lighting Upgrade
District, County & National Representatives
|Councillor Richard Meyer||07771 703 668||District Councillor|
|Councillor Jessica Fleming||The Limetrees|
All Saints Road
Creeting St Mary
w | 01449 711065
m | 07714 597980
|Jo Churchill MP||Constituency Office|
10 Hatter Street
Bury St Edmunds
House of Commons
020 7219 8487
|Member of Parliament|
Latest published Agenda, Minutes, Budget Reconciliation Reports and reports from County and District Councillors. The Minutes are also published each month in the Walsham Observer.
Policies, Procedures & Control Documents
These documents are reviewed and updated annually. There are also some informational documents on the role of a Councillor, elections and legal spending powers.
|Sec.137 Powers under Local Government Act|
|LTN 8 | Elections|
|Good Councillor Guide|
|2007 Village Design Statement|
|Search the Register of Interests for each of your Parish Councillors