Town and Parish Councils are an essential part of the structure of local democracy and have a vital role in acting on behalf of the communities they represent.
- give views, on behalf of the community, on planning applications and other proposals that affect the parish
- undertake projects and schemes that benefit local residents
- work in partnership with other bodies to achieve benefits for the parish
- alert relevant authorities to problems that arise or work that needs to be undertaken
- help the other tiers of local government keep in touch with their local communities.
Worplesdon Parish Council comprises 16 councillors, the Clerk (full time) and a part time Assistant.
Frequently Asked Questions about Town and Parish Councils
What is a Town or Parish Council?
It is a statutory local authority. It operates in the area of a defined civil parish or group of parishes. In Surrey there are three types of local authority - the County Council, the Borough Councils and the Town or Parish Councils. A Town Council has exactly the same powers as Parish Council - it is simply that the council has decided to take on the title 'town' as more appropriate. (In the following paragraphs references to a parish council apply to a town council as well).
Who is on the Council?
The council is made up of councillors elected by the electors of the parish. Every year the council elects one of them to be the Chairman of the Council. Worplesdon Parish Council has two paid officers. The Clerk to the Council organises meetings and helps to carry out the council's decisions. The Clerk does not vote or make decisions; that is the role of the councillors.
What powers do Parish Councils have?
They have a wide range of powers (Powers and Duties) which essentially relate to local matters, such as looking after community buildings, open space, allotments, play areas, bus shelters, car parks and much more. They also have the power to raise money through the council tax.
To whom are they accountable?
The electors of the parish. Elections to parish councils are held every four years. The council's accounts are subject to scrutiny by an External Auditor and the Borough Council can investigate alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct by individual councillors.
Can I attend meetings of the council?
Yes, all meetings of the council and its committees are open to the general public and the press, except in very exceptional circumstances. The time and place of meetings are advertised beforehand - usually on the parish noticeboard and on the Council's website. The Schedule of Meetings is published on our website.
Can I speak at the meeting?
We set aside the first ten minutes of the meeting for public participation. You may address the council on any matter which appears on the agenda. You cannot speak while the normal business of the meeting is being conducted.
Can I see the minutes of council meetings and other papers?
Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 you may see and have a copy of the 'recorded' information held by the council (unless it is classed as exempt information in the Act). For openness and transparency, agendas, minutes, policies and financial information are available via our website. The information requested via a formal Freedom of Information request has to be provided within 20 working days. There may be a photocopying charge.
How do I find out who the councillors are?
This information is provided on our noticeboards and website.
How do people get elected to the council?
Elections are held every four years and will usually coincide with a Borough Council election. The next elections will be held in May 2019.
Sometimes the number of people who put their names forward for election equals or is less than the number of seats on the council. In these circumstances there is not a poll on Election Day and the people nominated are deemed elected. If the number deemed elected is less than the number of seats on the council, then the council is required to co-opt people onto the council to fill the vacancies.
If a seat on the council becomes vacant between normal elections then a special procedure has to be followed which can lead to an election or, more usually, the co-option of a new councillor. It is good practice for a council to advertise widely in the parish if it is seeking to make a co-option.
Do councillors have to declare any financial or other personal interests they have in a matter under discussion by the council?
Yes. All councillors have to abide by our Code of Conduct which sets out which interests have to be declared. A copy of the Councillors' Register of Interests can found be on our "Councillor's" webpage.
What do I do if I have a complaint against the council?
First of all speak informally to the Clerk or Chairman to see if there is an easy way of resolving the matter. Failing that, write formally to the Council (send the letter or email to the Clerk). Click here to view our complaints procedure. The council will consider your complaint at its next meeting.
Hopefully, this will lead to a resolution. If it does not, then the next steps will depend on the nature of the complaint. If you believe there has been a breach of the Code of Conduct you need to write to the Monitoring Officer at your District Council. If you believe there has been some other kind of financial or other impropriety you should initially discuss it with the Borough Council's Monitoring Officer who will advise. Please note that the Local Government Ombudsman (who investigates maladministration) does not have any jurisdiction with respect to town and parish councils.
What powers do Parish Councils have with respect to planning applications?
Parish Councils are consulted by the relevant Planning Authority (either Guildford Borough Council or Surrey County Council) on all planning applications. Any views expressed by the Parish Council will be taken into account by the Planning Authority before a decision is made, providing the points made are relevant to the determination of a planning application. The final decision is made by the Planning Authority, not the Parish Council.