What is a Parish Council?
A Parish Council is a local authority constituted by parliament and wholly governed by legislation. A local council can only do what the law permits it to do.
In Thaxted, the Council has ultimate responsibility for the management of a range of physical assets such as the Recreation Ground and Sports Pavilion, the Windmill, Bolford Street Hall, the allotments, Park Street and Margaret Street car parks and the toilets, Margaret Street gardens and Cutlers Green together with many street furniture items and other open spaces.
Thaxted Parish Council elects 11 members who serve a term of 4 years. Each councillor must register any interests they may have and agree to abide by the code of conduct.
Parish councillor registerable interests may be seen via the following link: https://uttlesford.cmis.uk.com/uttlesford/ParishCouncilInterests.aspx
It employs three part-time staff; a clerk, a cleaning operative who is responsible for cleaning the Margaret Street public toilets and the Guildhall, a custodian who looks after the Guildhall.
How much does the Parish Council cost?
Parish Councils are generally the least bureaucratic and cheapest form of government. It raises the majority of its income from the ‘precept’ i.e. a tax levied on its electors. In 2018 - 2019 in Thaxted, it is £111,916. This is the sum that the Council calculated was required to meet the annual cost of running the services it provides at its budget meeting in January 2018. Thaxted has approximately 1,450 homes and each household pays a proportion towards the cost.
How do I find out more about what the Parish Council is doing?
Thaxted Parish Council keeps its residents informed of its activities in a variety of ways. You can find out what the Parish Council is doing by:
1) coming along to the Parish Council meetings. Full Council meetings are held on the first Thursday of each month, usually in the Guildhall. They provide an opportunity for you to observe the Parish Council as it discusses issues and makes decisions upon matters affecting the community. There is also a short period at the start of each meeting for residents to make representations about items on the agenda.
2) looking out for reports in the Council’s quarterly newsletter, delivered to as many homes in the Parish as practicable. Copies are also available here on the website and from the Community Information Centre/Library.
3) keeping a check on the notice board outside the Community Information Centre.
4) reading the minutes and agendas available on the website.
5) Attending the annual parish meeting in March to hear the various reports of key council members and looking at the reports here on the website.
6) contacting one of the councillors or contacting the Clerk. The Clerk is employed on a part-time basis so may not always be available. She will try to respond to any enquiry as quickly as possible. E-mail, telephone or letter is the best way of making contact. The Council Office is open on Friday mornings and at other times by appointment.
How do I bring a matter to the attention of the Council?
You might be concerned about any number of matters, e.g. the cleanliness of the streets, dog fouling, highway related matters, anti-social behaviour etc. Be aware that many matters of concern are not directly the responsibility of the Parish Council. However they can be pursued You can bring your concerns to the Council by:
1) speaking with or writing to a Councillor or the Clerk. Do this as soon as you become aware of a problem – the sooner an issue is reported the sooner the chance of it being resolved. In appropriate cases, where the Parish Council has had sufficient notice of a problem (usually no less than 14 days before a meeting) and the problem is such that a formal decision by the Council is needed to progress the matter, an item may be put on the agenda for discussion;
2) reporting a matter during the public session at a Parish Council meeting. It is not possible (or lawful) for the Parish Council to take decisions on matters raised during this time.
How often does the Parish Council meet and what happens at a meeting?
The Parish Council meets as a Full Council once every month, usually on the first Thursday. Meetings are usually held in the Guildhall and these usually commence at 8.00pm. A notice of each meeting is placed on the notice board outside the CIC and Library in the week prior to the meeting and on the website so that members of the public can see what business the Parish Council will be transacting.
The Parish Councillors will consider each item on the agenda. Sometimes they will resolve to take action on a matter; in other cases it will be necessary for the matter to be deferred so that further information or advice can be obtained.
Whilst the purpose of the meeting is to conduct the business of the Council, Thaxted Parish Council does set aside a period of time at each meeting for the public to make representations. This is the public’s opportunity to make comments upon agenda items if they so wish, but it must be remembered that once the public session has finished the public should take no further part in the meeting except with the express permission of the Chairman.
What is the Parish Council’s attitude towards openness and how can I obtain information from the Council?
Thaxted Parish Council is open about its business and invites members of the public to witness the decision making process by attending Parish Council meetings. In addition, in accordance with legislation, the Parish Council has adopted a Publication Scheme under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (which on the 25th May 2018 will be updated to the GDPR, General Data Protection Principles) currently these acts help set out the information published by the Parish Council to which the public are permitted to have access.
What do I do if I have a complaint about the Parish Council?
The Parish Council is a democratically elected body with authority to make decisions on matters within its power. It works hard to provide a quality service to the people of Thaxted and to ensure decisions taken are in the interests of the Parish as a whole. There are inevitably occasions when it is impossible to balance the interests of everyone in the Town and not everyone will be happy with every decision made.
It is hoped that you will always find the Council to act fairly and constructively, even if you do not always support its decision. If you should find that you have a complaint about an aspect of procedure or administration then you are invited to contact the Council. This can be done by contacting either the Chairman of the Council or the Clerk who will try to help resolve any problem. If this is not possible you will be advised of the Council’s complaints procedure and through that procedure the Council will try to achieve a resolution of the complaint.
Conversely, if you think the Council has done something well and would like to compliment its actions, please contact the Clerk who will pass this on to councillors.
Updated 15th May 2018