Ever wondered what your Parish Council does? Or thought it might be something you’d like to get involved in?
Great Denham is a relatively new parish in parish council terms – go to our nearest neighbours, Biddenham and Bromham, and you’ll find villages who can trace origins back to Norman times, and whose parish councils have been in existence for nearly as long!!
We’re different - established in 2007, Great Denham Parish Council is still relatively new. Our community is still growing – from 250 houses in 1998/99 to now over 1600 houses and a population of some 3000 people. Where once it was just fields and the Golf Club, now we are lucky to have a Primary School, Medical Centre, local shops, a Country Park and a Community Hall; the imminent opening of the new Sports Pavilion and the football pitches being used by local teams are bringing new activities and opportunities for residents into Great Denham.
Getting things done
Any community has issues and challenges, and a growing and relatively new community such as ours is no different – whether it is availability of services, changes to bus times and routes, inconsiderate parking and speeding and road safety. In addition because so much of Great Denham is still owned and overseen by the building developers, getting things done can seem to take longer than normal, and not just as simple as ringing the Borough Council, but often co-ordinating efforts between 2 or more developers AND the Borough Council!! But it’s never boring!
Parish Councils are the first tier of local government and the champions of their communities – to give residents a voice and serve their needs.
Just a few of the things the Parish Council has championed over the years:
- Putting Great Denham back on the map for Fibre Broadband when BT had overlooked us in their plans
- Ensuring that the new Community Hall build by David Wilson Homes was set up to meet the needs of residents, and that the design and equipment gave us a technically equipped and fantastic facility for community groups to use
- Setting up the Management Committee for the Hall as a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) and recruiting trustees to run and manage it for residents
- Responding quickly to road safety concerns – double yellow lines on Anglia Way/Saxon Way after a traffic accident, and implementing parking restrictions to improve road safety along Greenkeepers Road.
- Championing resident concerns on the Open Space Management charges and service provided by the Borough Council.
So how can you help as a Parish Councillor?
The job of a Parish Council is to represent the interests of the whole community – all groups, all interests, all ages.
As a parish councillor your task is to bring local issues to the attention of the council, and help it make decisions on behalf of the local community – the role is varied and rewarding. You will be able to listen to and represent the views of local residents, have the opportunity to get involved in planning issues, maintaining and improving the environment of the parish and helping to shape its future.
You may have a particular area of interest that, as a resident, you would like to see addressed on behalf of the wider community. By becoming part of a team – the Parish Council – you will have the support of the other Councillors, and the Clerk, to get things moving; you’ll speak to developers, the Borough Council, and other suppliers to put together plans and proposals, and decide on how Council funds will be used to implement initiatives.
You must be prepared to commit some time to the role and take an active part in the council – Great Denham Parish Council meetings are held on the first Monday of each month (except August) and meetings last on average for 1-2 hours, and you will need to allow some time to read and prepare for the meeting and, depending on your interests on behalf of the community, you may spend time outside the meetings dealing with any actions arising. The role is voluntary and unpaid.
As a councillor you have a responsibility to:
- Attend meetings when summoned to do so; the notice to attend a council meeting is, in law, a summons, because you have a duty to attend
- Consider, in advance of the meeting, the agenda and any related documents which were sent to you with the summons
- Take part in meetings and consider all the relevant facts and issues on matters which require a decision including the views of others expressed at the meeting
- Take part in voting and respect decisions made by the majority of those present and voting
- Ensure, with other councillors, that the council is properly managed
- Represent the whole electorate, and not just those who voted for you.
Interested? Here’s what to do
Following the May 2019 elections 6 of the 9 seats were uncontested; a further seat was filled via co-option at the May Parish Counci meeting.
We currently have 2 vacant posts to fill through co-option.
To stand/be nominated for election you must meet the following:
- Be a UK or Commonwealth citizen, or be a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, or be a citizen of another Member State of the European Union
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be an elector of the local council, or in the past 12 months occupied land or other premises in the area the local council serves (as owner or tenant); or work in the area the local council serves (as your principle or only place of work); or live within three miles of the local council boundary.
- Local councils welcome and are committed to the inclusion and recognition of all regardless of race, culture, ability, ethnicity or gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, marital status, religious affiliation, and socioeconomic status.
What are you waiting for -for more information contact the Clerk on firstname.lastname@example.org