Category: Parish Council
Published on 01 August 2017
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South Wonston Parish Council is made up of locally elected Councillors and aims to represent the interests of the community, articulating its needs and wishes, seeking to maintain the quality of life and character of the area and the provision of local services. The Parish Council when at its full compliment consists of eight Councillors, who are unpaid volunteers. The Councillors are elected to offices (roles) each year at the Annual Meeting of the Council (in May).  Meetings are held monthly (except August) usually on the second Monday of the month. 

Parish Councils have a range of powers (things they can do), which is laid down in law. There is a much shorter list of duties ie things they must do.
The Parish Council looks after the interests of the Parish where empowered to do so, bringing any other matters relating to the parish to the attention of the relevant authority, trying to represent the views and concerns of the community and to help support the activities that are important to the area.  The Parish Council also provides community information and documents that are of interest to the village. It also responds to consultation documents and requests from a diverse range of other bodies and authorities.


  

The Parish Council owns and manages the Recreation Ground off Lower Road, and the pavilion. The Council receives the money it needs to carry out its responsibilities from Winchester City Council, this is called the precept (a mandatory demand) and the amount is shown as part of the Council Tax Bill levied on each household in the parish by Winchester City Council. South Wonston village and Worthy Down married quarters fall into the civil parish of South Wonston. The civil parish is completely separate to the ecclesiastical body, the Parochial Parish Council, which operates independently, and covers a different area. The Parish Council also owns the bus shelters in the village and many of the litter bins and dog waste bins. The Council also watches over footpaths, bridleways and rights of way.

Whilst the Council has no powers to make planning decisions, as this is the responsibility of the District (and sometimes County Councils), planning issues relating to the parish do come before the Council for consultation and comment.   This may solely require a written response or it may entail one of the Councillors appearing at a planning meeting or Inquiry, to present and protect the interests of the parish as a whole.

Meetings
Members of the public are able to attend the regular Parish Council meetings to express their views on a particular planning application (or any other matter) when it is being discussed. Occasionally, with larger developments, it may be necessary to facilitate a public meeting where all parties may present their issues, prior to the Parish Council making a response to the appropriate authority. There is a statutory procedure to follow regarding notice of Council meetings, issuing agendas and minutes and this is the responsibility of the Clerk. Dates of forthcoming meetings are listed on the Parish Council website, and notice boards at the Village Stores and Village Hall. The week prior to a meeting an agenda is posted on the website and notice boards. On the website the agenda and minutes of recent meetings can also be found.  The minutes are not recognised as an official record of the meeting until approved by the Parish Council, which typically happens at the following meeting, and then they are published. Decisions are made at the meetings and there are Standing Orders which regulate procedure and conduct.  Also, Financial Regulations govern the conduct and management of the Council's finances. In addition, other Information documents can be viewed in the Parish Council Information area.

Parish Councillors

Councillors must attend meetings on a regular basis having prepared before hand by studying the agenda and other paperwork which the Clerk will provide.  He/she should take an active part in meetings to form a best judgement regarding the needs of the community and abide by majority decisions.  A Councillor should maintain proper standards of behaviour and not bring the Council into disrepute and act openly and honourably in the public's interest. Councillors have to abide by the Code of Conduct adopted by the Council.  Also a Register of Interests form has to be completed. There are different types of 'interests' and an interest in any matter may preclude a Parish Councillor from being party to discussion or decision making. Failure to complete the form or to declare a pecuniary interest (the highest level of interest) is a criminal offence under Section 34 of the Localism Act, punishable by a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (currently £5,000), and disqualification as a Member or Co-opted Member of the Town/Parish Council or any other relevant authority for a period not exceeding five years.

The Chairman

The Chairman is elected by fellow Councillors each year at the Annual Meeting of the Council in May. The Chairman is the figurehead but his authority is limited to matters of procedure and to the conduct of a meeting.  Other than the power to exercise a second or casting vote, a Chairman has no rights or views greater than the rights and views of other Councillors. At South Wonston the same person may not serve for more than three consecutive years as Chairman.

Parish Councillor Vacancies

Vacancies arise on a parish or town council for a variety of reasons but the filling of the vacancy is dealt with in different ways, so it is important to identify the type of vacancy to be filled:

·  A casual vacancy arises if a councillor fails to make and " a Declaration of Acceptance of Office, becomes disqualified (because of, for example, bankruptcy or failure to attend meetings), resigns or dies. 

·  A vacancy at an election may arise if the number of candidates nominated for election are too few to warrant an election or to fill all the vacant seats.  

The Clerk and Responsible Financial Officer

A local Council is required to appoint such officers as it considers necessary for the proper discharge of its functions.  The number and designations of officers appointed and their responsibilities will vary according to the size of the Council and the work it carries out.  A Council, whatever its size, should have a Clerk and a Responsible Financial Officer (RFO).  The Clerk is very often also the Responsible Financial Officer (RFO) but in some Councils this role is carried out by another member of staff.

The Clerk is the chief officer and responsibilities include advising the Council and administration of the Council's affairs. The Clerk is an independent and objective officer who takes instructions from the Council as the corporate body and not from individual Councillors. The RFO has specific duties relating to the budget, the accounts and financial management of the Council.

If you would like any further information please contact the Clerk – Rachael Jones

South Wonston Parish Council

PO BOX 324, Winchester, SO21 3WB

Tel: 01962 889072     Email:-  Clerk SWPC Rachael Jones < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. >


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