- Parish Councillor
Following on from the thread about people taking liberties, is anyone a parish councillor? Trying to work out whether to put myself forward. Not political in any way, but feel I should be doing more for the village.
It is a small village; all that appears in the meeting notes is planning, arguing about allotments, sorting out lighting and salt bins etc. But if it were that easy, surely everyone would do it? Only appears to be one meeting every month, plus a few other bits here and there.Posted 3 years agomartinhutchMember
As someone who used to cover Parish Council meetings as a junior reporter, I would be very wary, and at least attend some meetings beforehand to observe.
PCs seem to have a very high proportion of officious arseholes. I imagine some members were elected with high hopes of changing things for the better, and only afterwards realised they were spending four hours arguing over what colour to paint the bus shelter, who was bringing down the tone of the village, and what should be banned from where.Posted 3 years ago
Yeah, that’s my fear. All the members at the moment are WASPs (as am I), so diversity doesn’t feature heavily. But then it doesn’t in the village anyway. It’s an expensive village, in an expensive area, surrounded by NT land, in an AONB. Change doesn’t happen.
I do know three of the councillors reasonably well (small village as I say) – all are not officious. The other two extant ones I don’t really know. I may try and have a word with one or two of the existing ones without committing myselfPosted 3 years agomartinhutchMember
You may find you can achieve more simply by working through your existing parish councillor contacts. Are they the ones who have suggested you stand? Staying outside the PC will save you a rather tedious evening once a month when the sun is shining outside and you just want to ride a bike.
I was always surprised at how little they could actually get done, while becoming the target for all kinds of NIMBY ranting from the other villagers.
My old patch was South Buckinghamshire, so very much the kind of area you’re talking about.Posted 3 years ago
echo comments, be very very careful.
Was involved with a Parish Council over the future plans for the village pub, which went out of business. A young couple with a growing catering firm were keen to take it on, but as it transpired, a couple of councillors objected as it would mean the business would have vehicles coming and going from the pub that would use their shared lane. They were happier that the pub lay empty and slowly becoming derelict hoping it would be sold cheaply by the PubCO that owned it…Sod everyone else, who were keen to see a working pub back in the village.
It soured the place for months.Posted 3 years ago
My mum was a parish councilor for years. If you are a bit of a busy body, like to keep tabs on the other busy bodies and are thick skinned enough not to worry about being moaned about much of the time then the job is for you.
If you are interested then I say give it a go, you can always stand down at the next electionPosted 3 years ago
but in a situation like the pub one mentioned by nick, surely having more enlightened members on board would help. We do have many, many sportives going through the village; it’s a very strong MTB area as well. Can’t move for cyclists some weekends, and there’s often Ultra marathons using the village hall as a base.
At the moment, out of the existing councillors, I’d say they’re all in mid forties except one. So not too old fashioned.
one of the recent bones of contention in the village plan appears to be whether to turn the old [red] phone box into a book exchange. It does seem to have gone on for some time.Posted 3 years ago
The parish council probably didn’t have much influence in a planning application like that. They can object as can anyone but the decision is made at a higher level and I don’t honestly think the parish council have any more influence than objections from neighbours would havePosted 3 years ago
I’m Chairman of our Parish Council, and being doing it for several years. Overall it’s a worthwhile endeavour, but some of the concerns pointed out above do exist to some extent. Things like sorting out salt bins has to done by someone, and you have to remind yourself that however petty you might think things like the colour of the bus shelter might be, to some parishioners it’s important, and therefore you have to help navigate to a reasonable outcome.
The role of Parish Council’s is expanding though, with the need for Neighbourhood Plans, and the shifting of some funds/decisions down from County or District councils to the Parish level. Don’t get too excited though – this tends to be things like grass cutting or street lighting!
We’ve managed to get funding from a variety of sources to improve the village facilities – children’s playground equipment, adult outdoor fitness equipment, village hall improvements etc.
Overall it’s a quite satisfying, but as anything that involves dealing with a cross section of society, it has its momentsPosted 3 years ago
I’m not really a busybody; normal bloke (hopefully!) with [sometimes] a bit of time on my hands.
And I used to be moaned at. Happens all the time at work. I ignore them (or if they’re really annoying me, disable their access)
I’ll tread carefully. May try and see exactly what’s involved.Posted 3 years ago
Just to echo the comments above re planning – at a PC level you have very little influence, really no more than anyone else. You get to comment on planning applications, but these carry no more weight than comments directly from the public.
We have turned our old phone box into a book exchange and also fitted a defibrillator – we also organised a series of training sessions in how to use it – these are the sort of things that, however small, do make a difference I think.Posted 3 years ago
I think they do make a difference. I love where we live, but there are a couple of things that would help bring it into the 21st Century.
We’ve been here 14 years. Done the PreSchool committee and the Schools Friends committee. Kind of missed the boat being a school governor (and my mum did that for 30 years; I know what goes on there!). It’s either being a Parish Councillor, or helping run the football team. And I hate football.Posted 3 years ago
I felt a bit like you petec, thought I should probably give something back to the community in some way or another. Parish Cllr didn’t appeal having worked in local government you tend to see a lot of the issues already aired!
I was contacted by the CTC (now Cycling UK) who where trying to set up a Community Cycle Club, basically a club that tried to attract nervous, inexperienced, unfit folks who thought the normal cycle clubs were a bit too much. We do 5, 10 and 15 mile rides on quiet residential/country roads, off road cycle tracks etc. Stuff to encourage people back on their bikes and give them some local knowledge of where they can go and how they can get there. I find it really rewarding seeing the improvement in participants confidence, fitness and I think it offers a social connection for many of them that otherwise wouldn’t be there.
Could be something to consider?Posted 3 years ago
interesting idea about the community cycle club. Only problem where we are is there’s two roads in the village. One is a very steep hill down to the river. The other is a narrow winding A road. It deters the amateur/less confident cyclists. Shame – as once on the bike it’s quiet country lanes (or bridleways) for miles.Posted 3 years ago
yes you’re correct, it’s only by joining in can things change, just go into these things with your eyes open, I’ve volunteered for this, and governorships of schools and so on for the same reasons, and been un-surprised (frankly) by entrenched views, nimby-ism, reactionary viewpoints, and petty passive aggression.
sometimes you end up treading on folks little kingdoms, be preapred!Posted 3 years ago
The thing is with Parish Councils, the more people say I’m not getting involved because of the issues already aired, the more this becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
PCs reflect the people who sit on them,so if you want your PC to be forward looking and help bring your community into the 21st century as you say, get involved and make it happen.Posted 3 years ago
One is a very steep hill down to the river. The other is a narrow winding A road. It deters the amateur/less confident cyclists.
I always tell them when I’m leading that if the hills get too much there’s no problem with getting off and pushing (many haven’t mastered gears yet anyway!).
One of the principles of the Club is that we go at a pace everyone finds comfortable, if that means walking pace up hills, then walking pace it is!
But yes, I understand how hard linking up bike-friendly routes is, sometimes you do have to push them out of their comfort zone if only for a few minutes.Posted 3 years ago
Not getting off topic, but there’s a difference between a steep hill, and one in the top 100 climbs, used in the Tour of Britain, and has a TT number in the low tens. Course, there are other routes up the hill, but they involve cycling along the A road for a couple of miles.
back on topic – I’m tempted. Still. Despite all the warnings. The existing councillors may have entrenched views, but I’d like to think that wouldn’t sway me. I’ll investigate further.Posted 3 years agothecaptainMember
I’ve also been considering this for some time. Based on the minutes (and a meeting I attended) they are generally a useful and constructive bunch though a bit small-village nimby of course (National Park/conservation area, can understand it to some extent). I thought the perspective of a cyclist/runner might be useful but then I found out a couple of running club members are already on it – though cycling perhaps could do with a voice, eg there is no bike parking despite it being a popular destination on major cycling routes. There were two vacancies for some time though one just got filled, I could still volunteer without any need to get elected!Posted 3 years ago
PCs reflect the people who sit on them,so if you want your PC to be forward looking and help bring your community into the 21st century as you say, get involved and make it happen.
In reality, my story:
Village Pub goes under, people in village unhappy, PC appoints sub committee to explore what can be done, I’m on the committee, we gather info, talk to CC about adopting pub, speak with Banks, interested businesses, and the PubCo, hold village meeting, present ideas, get speakers in…All good. I reality two of the voting panel of the PC live nearby and behind the old pub, are now content as “disturbance” has gone and their lane isn’t used by pub traffic anymore, are frankly horrified by the fact we’ve actually done what we were asked to do, and 1. dissolve the pub sub committee sharpish (we’d done our work after all) and 2. in several votes kill off any further talk about the pub…
like I said, little kingdoms…Posted 3 years agooutofbreathMember
I’m on our Parish Council. You get to hear what’s going on, you have to do a tiny amount of work but can do a huge amount if there’s something you’re enthusiastic about.
You can do a small amount of good and you have no power beyond any assets the PC might own – playing fields common etc.
If, for example, you have a local pub you want to be saved then the PC aren’t going to be able to do any more about that than you can as a private individual. In such a case you might as well go it alone and set up a ‘save the pub’ group.
Forget planning – PC’s aren’t a planning authority and the planning process has rules about what is allowed/not allowed so PC comments/objections mean no more than any citizens comments which is nothing. You can draw up a local plan but it has to meet the rules and those rules say: “Build MORE! Develop MORE!”. By making a Parish plan all you’re really doing is taking the blame from locals for all the stuff that central government wants to be built. (You get some funding though.)
I would deffo recommend trying it.Posted 3 years agoleftyboyMember
I became a parish councillor at the beginning of the year and I’ve really enjoyed it, it does have it’s frustrations but I felt that I had no grounds to moan unless i was prepared to contribute!
I heavily recommend attend a few meetings before taking the plunge although that’s not always possible if a vacancy exists and there’s a deadline.
I love the comments about planning, we do have a chance to represent the parish BUT we don’t have any decision making power over anything substantial planning wise.
My first meeting was interesting as one of the public asked what we were going to do about the waiting lists for the NHS!Posted 3 years agopictonroadSubscriber
I work with PC’s to develop flood risk management schemes. A decent, representative PC is an huge asset to a community and can help guide and influence investment decision. It won’t stop or start schemes but it can make an huge difference to the outcome for the people.
It may not be directly relevant to your needs but what other collective voice do your community have?
Go for it, you can always run for the hill if it goes sour.Posted 3 years agorichmarsSubscriber
I tried to get co-opt’ed as a PC to replace one that had left. I explained that if elected I would try and make the PC more representative. The average age of the PC was about 65, and the average age of the villagers was about 40, my point being that they had a different view to the people they were representing.Posted 3 years ago
I didn’t get selected. (it was a vote of the existing PC’s.)
fortunately there’s a space (at least one).
I may well give it a go. Obviously need to run it past her indoors first.
My only slight concern is a neighbour opposite is on it, and another neighbour two doors down. If there’s ever any planning in the near vicinity we’ll all have to leave the room!Posted 3 years agoourmaninthenorthSubscriber
My mother did it in the village I are up in. Largely, I think, to support a wider residents’ objection to proposed planning for battery chicken farms within the Parish. She had the engird to become very engaged and supportive of village initiatives.
The option isn’t available to me – where I live we only have a parish meeting. And, in 5 years, I’ve never yet been notified where/when the meeting takes place (only having the minutes pushed through the door on a couple of occasions). Hmm, I might need to track down whoever administers it to see what’s what. After all, this is one of the view examples of direct democracy in Britain..!
I did consider standing to become a governor at my daughter’s primary school, but felt that the usual clique in the next village would have got in first….Posted 3 years ago
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