The main Ulcombe Parish Council elections will take place in 2016.
However, a casual vacancy has arisen for a councillor for Ulcombe Parish Council as a councillor is planning to move. The information below provides some background information to Ulcombe Parish Council and the role of councillor.
Ulcombe is one of the smallest parishes of the 41 in Maidstone Borough with some 700 residents registered on the electoral roll. This determines the size of the parish council at 7 members. Election to the council is not party political. The ideal council would possibly have representatives from all sections of the population but it is more important that councillors should be involved in the community and wish to protect the quality of life and the environment for the residents.
Actions and behaviour of the council are controlled by a strict Code of Conduct and also by Standing Orders. Decisions are taken by majority vote and financial monitoring is undertaken by internal and external auditors. As a corporate body the actions of the council and its councillors are covered by insurance, with the exception of acts which are not conducted in good faith.
Being a small parish council, Ulcombe does not currently appoint committees. This gives councillors the right to vote on all issues except where a personal interest has to be declared. Occasionally working parties are set up to deal with specific issues. These can range from practical tasks at the recreation ground to formulating a response to a consultation document.
Functions of the councillors
A responsibility shared on a month by month rota is the weekly inspection of the play equipment at the recreation ground and monitoring of the playing field and pavilion condition. The council is represented at regular inter-parish meetings with the police and seminars run by Maidstone Borough Council and Kent Association of Local Councils. Occasionally a councillor will attend and speak at the Borough Council’s Planning Committee when the parish council’s recommendation on a planning application is at variance with that of the planning officer. Councillors can be reimbursed for the cost of travel and subsistence to meetings outside the parish.
There are training courses available for new councillors and booklets available that give useful guidance on how to be a good councillor.
What does the parish council do?
A parish council is the most local unit of local government and can carry out a large range of functions and duties. Ulcombe Parish Council runs the recreation ground (which includes the sports pitches, pavilion, play area and car park), it provides the bus shelter and is responsible for the war memorial. It reports highway problems to Kent Highways and footpath issues to the Public Rights of Way Officer. It liaises with MBC over local service provision and funding and with other village organisations and with Kent Police. Every year the parish council must produce a budget which includes a requirement for the parish precept. This provides its principal source of funding.
One of the most important roles carried out by parish councils is to act as an advocate and representative of the interests of local people. Parish councils are regularly consulted on major issues by the borough council, county council, central government and other public bodies. Parish councils are also an important part of the planning process and must be consulted on planning applications. It is likely that the powers and duties of Parish Councils will increase over the next few years under the Localism Act.
The parish council holds its meetings on the second Thursday of each month in the village hall. The meetings start at 7.15pm and last about 3 hours. There are occasional additional meetings to meet deadlines for responses to consultation documents and deal with other urgent matters. Councillors are expected to attend all meetings.
A further insight of the work of the parish council can be gained by looking at the minutes (available on the website, noticeboard or from the clerk) and talking to the parish councillors.
Who is allowed to stand for co-option?
Anyone who is over 18 can become a parish councillor, subject to a short list of disqualifications, provided they live within the parish, or within 3 miles of the parish boundary. Alternatively, they are eligible if they are on the Electoral Register in the relevant parish, own property within that parish, or have their principal place of employment within the parish. The term of office is 4 years from the date of a local election (May 2012) but a councillor can resign at any time. To find out more information on qualifying please contact Maidstone Borough Council Registration on 01622 602024.
What sort of people serve on the parish council?
All sorts! No particular qualifications are needed and councillors come with a great diversity of skills and views. They share a desire to contribute to the present and future well being of the local community. This is a voluntary, unpaid, role.
What should you do if you are interested in being co-opted?
If you would like to apply to fill the vacancy on the parish council please write to the clerk, Helen Anderson at 16 Chaplin Drive, Headcorn, Kent, TN27 9TN or email firstname.lastname@example.org explaining how you feel you would be able to fulfill the role. Please be prepared to attend the next meeting so that the councillors can meet you and have the opportunity to ask you questions. The successful candidate will take up their role as a councillor at the parish council meeting after the appointment is made. If you have any queries please contact the parish clerk for further information (write or email as above or phone 01622 891945).