The Parish Council is a small group of local residents who meet each month to take decisions on local amenities, resources and input into wider local government areas such as planning and housing. The Parish Council is always looking for people to join the group and take an active role in the community and with the current COVID-19 crisis, local leadership has never been more important. Below are a few questions and answers that might help you decide if joining the Parish Council for you?
Q: Parish? That sounds religious, is it?
A: Not at all. The ‘parish’ bit just describes the area we’re responsible for which is the Parish of Pill and Easton-in-Gordano. People of all faiths and none are welcome to join! We’re basically the third (and most local!) tier of local government.
Q: Is it a paid role?
A: No, all the Parish Councillors are volunteers who give a bit of time each month to help the community.
Q: Is it a political thing?
A: No, the Parish Council is a non-political group and people don’t identify as a party or ideology (though you can if you want to, up to you). The focus is on community action and support. The Parish Council is also aiming to have a wider group of people from all ages and walks of life as possible.
Q: What do people get out of doing it then?
A: Each person has their own reasons but the most common seems to be a desire to put back into the community we live in and, right now, help out during a time of crisis. There are other benefits too: it’s great experience with decision making and group work, and looks good on a CV in terms of the communication skills you use for the role and the positive contribution you make.
Q: So what do I need to commit too?
A: There’s a meeting of around 2 hours per month and papers to read before it, so the minimum is a couple of hours per month. You don’t need to make every single meeting. Currently the meetings are all held virtually. From there, issues and areas you feel passionate about; be the allotments, play areas, climate, planning, footpaths – any local issue – you can step up and do what you feel you can. There are a range of existing committees that take on different issues so there is structure and guidance to help you make a difference.
Q: What about COVID-19?
A: The council has been able to provide important local support during this time, both in supporting other local groups, liaising with the North Somerset Council and helping to clarify the rules locally.
Q: Who is eligible?
A: Any adult living or working in the Pill or Easton-in-Gordano area. There’s a few more detailed criteria listed below.
Q: Is it complicated to join?
A: No, it is super easy and we’ll guide you through the process. If it sounds like you’re interested, simply email Julie – firstname.lastname@example.org – and we’ll arrange to have a chat. There is more detailed information below on the process, but the best thing is always to get in touch. The Parish Council is a democratic body so if there are more people willing to do it than places, then there is an election. However currently we’re understrength so you’d be ‘co-opted’ to join, which is a fancy way of saying, ‘you’re in!’ Each member’s mandate to the role is renewed every 4 years either by election or co-option (if we are not at capacity)
Extra Information! Eligibility to Become a Parish Councillor
To stand for election/co-option on the Parish Council, you must: –
- a UK or Commonwealth citizen
- or be a citizen of another Member state of the European Union
- and be at least 18 years old
To be eligible to stand for an election for a parish, you must meet one of the 4 criteria: –
1. You are, and will continue to be, registered as a local government elector for the parish/community in which you wish to stand from the day of your nomination onwards.
2. You have occupied as owner or tenant any land or other premises in the parish/community area during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election/co-option.
3. Your main or only place of work during the 12 months prior to the day of your nomination and the day of election has been in the parish/community area.
4. You have lived in the parish/community area or within three miles of it during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election.
If you do become a Parish Councillor, you will have to sign up to the Parish Council’s Code of Conduct.
You must also not be disqualified from standing, including, but not limited to, the following disqualification reasons: –
- You are employed by the Parish/Community Council or hold a paid office under the Parish/Community Council (including joint boards or committees).
- You are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order.
You have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three months or more (including a suspended sentence), without the option of a fine, during the five years before polling day.