Thursday, 27th June 2019

The Role of Parish Councils

The Parish Council is the first tier in local government. As it is the authority closest to the people, Parish Councils are invariably the first place people will go with concerns or ideas. For this reason, they are a vital part of any community.

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. They:

  • 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.
Parish Councils have a wide range of legal duties and powers, such as the maintenance of community buildings and land and much more. They have the power to raise money through the local council tax.

What decisions do Parish Councils make?

Parish Councils make all kinds of decisions on issues that affect the local community. Probably the most common topics that parish councils get involved with are planning matters (they are statutory consultees), crime prevention, managing open spaces and campaigning for and delivering better services and facilities.

It’s true to say that on their own, Parish Councils have limited powers to make decisions. But they do have the ability to negotiate with, and the power to influence, those other organisations that do make the final decisions (such as the local borough council, health authorities, police etc).

In this respect Parish Councils are extremely powerful. The organisations that make the final decisions know that a parish council gives the best reflection of how a community feels about something, and its views will be taken seriously.

What powers do Parish Councils have?

They have a wide range of powers which essentially related to local matters, such as looking after community buildings, open space, and play areas. The Council also has the power to raise money through taxation, the precept. The precept is the Parish Council’s share of the council tax. The precept demand goes to the billing authority, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, which collects the tax for the parish council.

Brinsworth Parish Council

Brinsworth Parish Council has been in existence since 1895.

Brinsworth Parish Council has 11 Councillors who stand for election every four years. The duties and functions of a parish council are many and varied.

The Council meets 3 times a month and all meetings are open to the press and public. The meetings are held on a Thursday evening at 6pm and take place in The Centre. There is a forum before the start of the meeting at which members of the public can raise concerns and ask questions. There is also an annual meeting which all parishioners are invited to attend. All meetings are advertised on the council notice boards. Residents can bring to the attention of the parish council anything that concerns them, either directly or through the clerk. If matters raised are not the responsibility of the council, the clerk can bring them to the attention of the proper authority.

What Services Does Brinsworth Parish Council Provide?

The Parish Council currently provides the following services for the benefit of residents:

  • works with RMBC to improve the environment in Brinsworth
  • works with the Police to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour
  • supports residents in the parish with any issues of concern
  • supports local issues important to residents, e.g. new library facilities
  • consults with RMBC regarding planning applications in the parish
  • provides grants to local community groups and schools
  • strives to bring funding from external sources into Brinsworth
  • produces a parish newsletter four times per year full of local news
  • provides a youth club each week for school years 4, 5 and 6
  • employs staff to maintain the parish facilities
  • organises an annual Fete, a Firework display, a Remembrance and Civic service
  • provides green open spaces, Brinsworth Playing Fields, Howarth Park and Millennium Park
  • provides a Pavilion which is available for hire
  • provides ‘The Centre’ which is run on a day to day basis by Brinsworth Community Trust on its behalf.
  • provides 3 football pitches including changing rooms/showers for local teams
  • provides 3 children’s play areas
  • provides 3 multi-use games areas
  • provides a bowling green
  • provides Christmas decorations for community enjoyment.

What Can Brinsworth Parish Council Do?

The Parish Council has a wide range of powers and is involved in providing community halls and recreational facilities, maintaining open spaces and play areas, and dealing with other ‘quality of life’ issues.

The Parish Council works hard to bring about improvements through local projects, lobbying other service providers and working in partnership with other parishes and agencies. It is notified of all planning and licensing applications within the parish boundary and can make its views known. Quite often these are taken into account, although the final decision on such applications remains with RMBC. Small projects, such as providing seats, clearing footpaths, planting and landscaping work can be done directly by the Parish Council. In the case of bigger projects, such as sports facilities and children’s play areas, the Parish Council may contribute funds from its reserves and seek match funding from external organisations in the form of a grant.

It can support residents in many ways and even if it cannot control an issue it will strive to help achieve what is best for the community of Brinsworth.

What Can’t Brinsworth Parish Council Do?

The Parish Council cannot deliver any service that is a statutory duty of the Local Authority such as:

  • education
  • transport
  • planning
  • fire and public safety
  • social care
  • libraries
  • waste management
  • trading standards
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