Parish Council clarifies its role

Horsington Parish Council exists to care for local amenities within the parish and to represent our community’s interests to South Somerset District Council and beyond.  In common with other town and parish councils across the country, councillors are elected on a four-yearly basis if sufficient candidates stand.  Horsington Parish Council comprises seven councillors.  For the upcoming election in May 2019, only seven candidates are standing and so all will automatically be elected unopposed.  Parish councillors are unpaid and work entirely on a voluntary basis.

Each councillor must, by law, register personal interests which may influence their decision making.  A register of councillor’s interests can be found on the South Somerset District Council website.  Additionally, councillors are required to declare any interests related to any agenda item at the start of each meeting; where a conflict of interests could exist, councillors are required to leave the room whilst that agenda item is discussed.

The Parish Council meets on the second Thursday of each month at 7.30pm at Horsington Village Hall.  An agenda is posted to the noticeboards in Horsington and South Cheriton, and to the Parish Council website, in advance of each meeting.  Each meeting commences with a Public Forum – an opportunity for anyone to formally communicate views or raise issues to the council.  There is no need to provide advance notice that you are coming however, if you do let the Clerk know, he will normally notify the Chair and/or other councillors to ensure the council is prepared.  Please note that, in most circumstances, views or issues raised in the Public Forum will be noted but won’t be debated there and then – if there is a need for debate this will be added to a future agenda to advise other parishioners and allow them to register their views.

The Parish Council’s work includes looking after our community amenities including the play area, the wildlife pond, the churchyard and cemetery.  The Parish Council works hard to ensure that these are safe and well maintained – this involves working with contractors for things like grass cutting and tree surgery, ensuring all the appropriate insurances and permissions are in place, arranging safety inspections and liaising with multiple parties when administering the cemetery.  The Parish Council also undertakes a number of other activities including working with other organisations to ensure that footpaths are clear and well maintained, helping ensure that problems with the highways are reported and ensuring that grit bins are topped up for the winter months.

The Parish Council also has a role in the planning process.  The council objectively reviews all applications made within the parish and, taking views received from parishioners into account, makes comments to South Somerset District Council.  The Parish Council has no decision-making authority and can only make comments based on valid planning considerations – there are a surprising number of aspects which do not form legally admissible considerations!  South Somerset District Council may or may not choose to incorporate the Parish Council comments into their planning decision.

The Parish Council is funded largely through the precept – the part of your council tax that comes to the parish.  The precept funds the grass cutting & tree surgery, pays the Clerk’s wages and covers insurances, memberships, inspections, accountancy etc. as required by law.  The Parish Council does not aim to build a surplus and, with the exception of a small fund that is used to clear the silt from the pond on a two to three yearly basis, the precept is generally spent within the financial year.  A small amount of funding is also obtained from the sale of cemetery plots – this represents a very small part of the budget.  Larger projects, such as the rejuvenation of the wildlife pond or the replacement play equipment, are funded through grants.  The Parish Council applies to South Somerset District Council, local business or other community groups for any such grants.

Financial accounts, meeting agendas, meeting minutes and other documents as required by law can be found on our website (kindly provided by the Horsington Village Hall Committee): http://horsingtonvillagehall.co.uk/?page_id=99.  This site is linked from the South Somerset District Council website or can also be found by Googling ‘Horsington Parish Council’.

The Parish Council is keen to ensure that our community is represented effectively, so if you have views or issues that you feel have been overlooked please let us know or come along to a Public Forum – you’ll be very welcome!

April 2019


One thought on “Parish Council clarifies its role”

  1. Parish Council Comment
    It was interesting to gather from Mrs Godson that she had been co-opted on to the Parish Council. Someone who is prepared to take an interest in Local matters should be applauded!
    There is a serious lack of allotments in the area and maybe the Godsons would consider leasing the redundant walled garden to the Parish for use as allotments. This would give the parish and them an income without continuing with their controversial planning applications!

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