ROLE OF PARISH COUNCILLORS
The principal role of a Parish Councillor is to take collective decisions of behalf of all residents within the Parish. Councillors must take great care to avoid taking decisions that take account of their own opinion only. They have a responsibility to be well-informed, especially about diverse local views and to listen to, and understand, the views and needs of different groups in the community. Councillors cannot assume that they represent the interests of electors without consulting them.
The role is unpaid but Councillors are not volunteers in a legal sense. They are elected representatives and holders of a public office with statutory duties. Councillors serve for a 4-year term, unless co-opted or elected in a by-election, when they serve until the next election. They must apply the law and comply with the Code of Member Conduct. Councillors contribute to the work of the Council by suggesting ideas, influencing policy, engaging in constructive debate and by responding to the needs and views of the community. Councillors comment on proposals to ensure the best outcome and vote to enable the Council to make decisions.
Individual Parish Councillors cannot make decisions on behalf of the Council, but they can actively lead and engage with local projects. Parish Councillors have no powers outside of the Council meeting.
Diversity is encouraged. Councillors from different backgrounds better represent the whole community and possess different enthusiasms, skills, attitudes and interests. Some Councillors work with ideas while others are very practical; some like accounts while others prefer reports. The Parish Council needs a wide range of skills to work as a team.
Occasionally there will be a conflict of interest requiring sensitive judgement, and the need to take difficult decisions in an open, honest and reasoned way. Councillors are also required to act in an ethical way and to declare an interest when necessary.
- A Councillor agrees to attend all Council meetings (reasonably possible) that he or she is summoned to
- As part of the Parish Council, Councillors may have responsibility for running local services such as public open spaces, play areas, village halls, community car schemes and potentially much more
- Deciding how much to raise through the precept in order to deliver the Council’s services
- Influencing and shaping the long-term development policy for the Parish, and as part of the planning process, commenting on planning applications in the Parish
- Improving the quality of life and the environment in the local area
- Working to identify issues which are important to the lives of the residents you represent
- Working to bring about improvements through local projects, lobbying other service providers and working in partnership with other Parishes, local authorities and agencies
- Councillors together as a team are responsible for the financial decisions made and implemented