Eldon Parish Council consists of five Councillors and has one employee, the Clerk to the Council. The most recent elections for the Council were held in May 2013. The Council currently has a full complement of Councillors. However, if any future vacancies arise before the next elections, we will advertise these on the news and events section of our website.
The Parish Council meets six times per year on the last Tuesday of every other month from May (which is the annual meeting) onwards. Meetings normally commence at 7.00 p.m. and members of the public are very welcome to attend and ask questions (subject to providing notice of the subject in advance). Future meetings are listed on our meetings diary and papers and reports associated with our meetings can be found on our agendas and minutes section of our website.
What do Parish Councils Do?
There are over 9,000 parish and town councils representing around 16 million people across England. They form the most local level of government and cover many rural and urban areas.
Parish councils have an overall responsibility for the well-being of their local communities. The work of a Parish Council falls into three main categories:
- Representing the local community
- Delivering services to meet local needs
- Striving to improve quality of life in the parish
Parish Councils can provide and/or maintain a number of services including allotments, cemeteries, car parks, bus shelters, seats, village greens, common land and leisure facilities.
Each year the Parish Council asks for a sum of money, called a ‘precept’, which is collected through your council tax. This money is used by the Parish Council to improve facilities and services for local people and to run the Council. Parish Councils can also apply for grants and loans.
What do Parish Councillors do?
Councillors have three main areas of work:
- Decision-making: Through attending meetings and committees with other elected members, Councillors decide which activities to support, where money should be spent, what services should be delivered and what policies should be implemented
- Monitoring: Councillors make sure that their decisions lead to efficient and effective services by keeping an eye on how well things are working
- Getting involved locally: As local representatives, Councillors have responsibilities towards their parishioners and local organisations. This often depends on what the Councillor wants to achieve and how much time is available.
The day-to-day work of a Councillor may include:
- Going to meetings of local organisations
- Going to meetings of bodies that affect the wider community, such as the police, the Highways Authority, schools and colleges
- Bringing parishioners concerns to the attention of the council
Could You be a Parish Councillor?
As a Councillor you can become a voice for your community and affect real change. It helps if you’re a “people person” who enjoys talking to other residents but, more importantly, you need to have the concerns and best interests of the parish as a whole at heart. Councillors are community leaders and should represent the aspirations of the public that they serve.
Parish Councils are the most local part of our democratic system and are the tier of local government which is closest to the public. Why don’t you stand for your local parish council and see what difference you can make to your local community?
How Much Time Does it Take Up and When?
On average, less than a couple of hours a week. Obviously there are some Councillors who spend more time than this – and some less, but in the main, being a Parish Councillor is an enjoyable way of contributing to your community and helping to make it a better place to live and work. Council meetings are always held in the evening – as are most meetings of the other groups which Councillors attend on the Council’s behalf.
Talking and listening to your fellow parishioners can be done at any time but you must be able to spend a couple of hours, usually monthly, attending Council meetings.
Are You Qualified?
Most people are qualified to serve as a Parish Councillor. However there are a few basic rules. You have to be:
- A British citizen, or a citizen of the Commonwealth or the European Union
- 18 years or older on the day you become nominated for election
- Live or work in or near the Parish
You cannot stand for election if you:
- Are the subject of a bankruptcy restriction order or interim order
- Have been convicted in the United Kingdom of any offence and have had a prison sentence (whether suspended or not) for a period of over three months without the option of a fine within five years before the day of the election
There are also some other disqualifications relating to candidacy, but they are too complex to outline here. Further information can be found on the CDALC (County Durham Association of Local Councils) website.