Who we are?
Kesgrave Town Council is a corporate body, a legal entity separate from that of its members. Its decisions are the responsibility of the whole body. The council has been granted powers by Parliament including the important authority to raise money through taxation (the precept) and a range of powers to spend public money.
Kesgrave Town Council is an elected body in the first tier of local government. Other tiers, known as principal councils or authorities, have many legal duties to deliver services such as education, housing, town and country planning, transport, environmental health and social services. Local councils have the legal power to take action, but they have very few duties and greater freedom to choose what action to take.
They can play a vital part in representing the interests of the communities they serve and improving the quality of life and the local environment. Furthermore they influence other decision makers and can, in many cases, deliver services to meet local needs. In other words, you and your council can make a difference.
SO WHAT DO WE DO?
Planning, highways, transport and traffic, community safety, housing, street lighting, allotments, cemeteries, playing fields, community centres, litter, war memorials, seats and shelters, rights of way – these are some of the issues that concern parish government.
Central Government is encouraging local councils to deliver more services and play a greater part in their communities. For example the following are all under the remit of local councils:
- Burial Grounds, Cemeteries, Churchyards and Crematoria
- Bus Shelters
- Bye-laws – the power to make bye-laws concerning: swimming pools, cycle parks, mortuaries and pleasure grounds
- Clocks – public clocks can be provided and must be maintained
- Community Centres, Conference Centres, Halls, Public Buildings
- Entertainment and the Arts
- General Spending – parish councils can spend a limited amount of money on anything they deem of benefit to the community that is not covered by the other specific responsibilities described in this list
- Highways – lighting, parking places, right to enter into discussions about new roads and road widening, consent of parish council required for diversion or discontinuation of highway, traffic signs and other notices, tree planting and verge maintenance
- Land – acquisition and sale of
- Legal proceedings – power to prosecute and defend any legal proceedings in the interests of the community, power to take part in any public enquiry
- Litter – provision of litter-bins and support for any anti-litter campaigns
- Planning – parish councils must be notified of, and display for residents, any planning applications for the area. Any comments submitted to the planning authority by the parish council must be taken into account
- Public conveniences – provision and maintenance of public toilets
- Recreation – provision of recreation grounds, public walkways, pleasure grounds, open spaces, village greens, gymnasiums, playing fields, holiday camps and boating ponds
- Rights of Way – footpath and bridleway maintenance
- Seats (public)
- Signs – danger signs, place names and bus stops signs
- Tourism – financial contributions to any local tourist organisations allowed
- Traffic Calming
- War Memorials
Diversity is a strength
The diversity of local councils is their strength. Each can make a unique response to the needs of their community with a sensitivity that is more difficult for principal authorities to achieve.
Diversity often arises because councillors have different backgrounds, enthusiasms and interests. We should celebrate this.
Councillors have different skills and attitudes; for example, some work with ideas while others are very practical; some like accounts while others prefer reports. The local council needs a range of skills to work as a team.
The chairman has the role of team leader for council meetings while your clerk is also a vital team member.
The clerk provides advice and administrative support, and takes action to implement council decisions. The clerk may have to act as a project manager, personnel director, public relations officer or finance administrator. The clerk is not a secretary and is not at the beck and call of the chairman or other councillors; the clerk is answerable only to the council as a whole. The clerk is the proper officer of the council in law. Legally councils can delegate decisions to clerks because they are trusted professional officers whose objectivity allows them to act for the council.
The best councils will have a clerk and councillors who work as a team to provide a service for the community.