So what does your Council do?So much bureaucracy, so much Council Tax - so what does the Parish Council do?
It is important to start by saying that, unlike MP's or County and District Councillors, Parish Councillors are not paid anything for the work they do or the time they spend on Parish Council business. They do not receive any allowances, and only get paid for things like postage that they use, (if they choose to claim for them). When they attend Council meetings or meetings with the City Council or with Ward Councillors or public enquiries, they do it in their own time. They are in fact the cheapest element of government, and in 2013 an average elector will pay less than £2 a month for all that the Parish Council do. All Parish Councils are proud of being the lowest cost component of local government.
Any planning applications within the Parish are referred to the Parish Council for local comment although the decisions are made by the City Council. Similarly, the Parish Council was consulted about the Neighbourhood Development Plan and played a major role in its adoption. They are also able to press for enforcement action when planning law is breached by a developer or landowner to the detriment of neighbours, or the area.
The Parish Council also manages a certain amount of public land around the village, arranging for public liability insurance and grass-cutting etc. as well as running allotments at Primrose Hill and at Stables Lane playing field. Where new developments take place, sums of money are sometimes paid over by developers under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act in compensation for a number of shortcomings in the development. Although this is mainly controlled by the Ward Councillors wherever possible the Parish Council tries to ensure that this money is made available to them to manage the provision of public open space or recreation facilities such as the Stables Lanes development or other benefits for the village. Section 106 money has helped to pay for the Millennium Gardens and the improvements along the riverside.
The Parish Council now owns and is the Custodian Trustee for the Village Hall and it owns Stable Lanes Playing Fields, managing them in co-operation with clubs which use the facilities. They are able, subject to strict legal limits, to make donations to support local community groups and every year they contribute to the costs of maintaining the Village Hall. Finally, they pay for the Boston Spa Tree and lights and contribute to the late night shopping event at Christmas!
The powers of Parish Councils were recently increased by the Government to permit them to make grants in connection with community transport schemes and crime prevention initiatives.
Keep an eye on this website for more news on these and other issues - and please come to your Parish Council meetings on the 3rd Monday of each month at 7.00 pm in the Lantern Room of the Village Hall.