Frequently Asked Questions

Want to know a little more about your Parish Council?  Read on…

  1. What is a Parish Council?
  2. What powers do Parish Councils have?
  3. How is the Parish Council funded?
  4. Who is on the Council?
  5. How do I become a Councillor?
  6. How do find out who the Councillors are?
  7. Do you get paid to be a Parish Councillor?
  8. What do Councillors do?
  9. How much time does it take up?
  10. Can I attend meetings of the Council?
  11. Can I speak at the meeting?
  12. Can I see the minutes of Council meetings?
  13. What powers do Parish Councils have with respect to planning applications?

What is a Parish Council?

It is a local authority set up under the Local Government Act 1972 and operates in the area of a defined civil parish or group of parishes.

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What powers do Parish Councils have?

They have a wide range of powers and duties which essentially relate to local matters, such as looking after community buildings, open space, allotments, play areas, and much more. They also have the power to raise money through the Council tax. They have a duty to appoint a Chairman and to employ a Clerk.

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How is the Parish Council funded?

Parish Councils are funded through Council Tax by precepting for a sum to be raised by Solihull MBC and by income from any service they provide.

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Who is on the Council?

The Council is made up of Councillors elected by the electors of the parish and elections take place every four years. At the Annual General Meeting the Parish Council elect one member to be the Chairman of the Council. The Council has a paid officer who organises meetings and helps to carry out the Council’s decisions and this is normally the Clerk who is the Responsible Finance Officer. The Clerk does not vote or make decisions this is the role of the Councillors.

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How do I become a Councillor?

To qualify to be a Councillor you have to be:

  • A British subject, or a citizen of the Commonwealth or the European Union.
  • On the “relevant date” (i.e. the day on which you are nominated or, if there is a poll, the day of the election) 18 years of age or over.
  • On the “relevant day” a local government elector for the Council area for which you want to stand.

Additionally you must have:

  • During the whole of the 12 months preceding that day, occupied as owner or tenant any land or other premises in the Council area.
  • During that same period had your principal or only place of work in the parish.
  • During that 12 month period resided in the parish. In the case of a sitting member of a parish or community Council you can also satisfy the criteria to be elected if you have lived in the parish or within 3 miles of it for the whole of the 12 months preceding the “relevant day”.

You cannot stand for election if you:

  • Are subject of a bankruptcy restriction order or interim order.
  • Have, within five years before the day of the election, been convicted in the United Kingdom of any offence and have had a sentence of imprisonment (whether suspended or not) for a period of over three months without the option of a fine.
  • Work for the Council you want to become a Councillor for (but you can work for other local authorities, including the principal authorities that represent the same area).

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How do find out who the Councillors are?

By viewing Councillors page here. The information is also listed on the Parish Council notice boards and in the library. You can also contact the Clerk.

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Do you get paid to be a Parish Councillor?

Since 2004 Parish Councils can pay Councillors allowances and these are subject to tax and national insurance contributions where applicable. The allowances tend not to be very large and are at the discretion of the individual councils. Bickenhill & Marston Green Parish Council has chosen to maintain a strictly unpaid status apart from an annual allowance paid to the Chairman.

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What do Councillors do?

Councillors have three main components to their work.

1. Decision making – Through meetings and attending committees with other elected or co-opted members, Councillors decide which activities to support, where money should be spent, what services should be delivered and what policies should be implemented.

2. Monitoring – Councillors make sure that their decisions lead to efficient and effective services by keeping an eye on how well things are working.

3. Getting involved locally – As local representatives, Councillors have responsibilities towards their constituents and local organisations. These responsibilities and duties often depend on what the Councillor wants to achieve and how much time is available, and may include:

• Going to meetings of local organisations such as tenants’ associations.

• Going to meetings of bodies affecting the wider community.

• Taking up issues on behalf of members of the public.

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How much time does it take up?

Quite often Councillors say that their duties occupy them for about three hours a week. Obviously there are some Councillors who spend more time than this and some less, but in the main, being a Parish Councillor is an enjoyable way of contributing to your community, and helping to make it a better place to live and work.

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Can I attend meetings of the Council?

Yes, all meetings of the Council must be open to the general public and press, except in very exceptional circumstances. The time and place of meetings must be advertised beforehand on the Parish Council notice board. The Clerk will be able to provide information about forthcoming meetings.

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Can I speak at the meeting?

The first item of business on the agenda is for the public to speak and ask questions on matters on the agenda. Once the normal business on the agenda begins then members of the public cannot contribute to the meeting.

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Can I see the minutes of Council meetings?

Once the minutes have been ratified a copy of the minutes is placed in Marston Green Library and in the Parish Hall. Copies can also be found on this website.

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What powers do Parish Councils have with respect to planning applications?

Parish Councils are consulted by the relevant Planning Authority (Solihull MBC) on all planning applications. Any views expressed by the Parish Council will be taken into account by the Planning Authority before a decision is made, providing the points made are relevant to the determination of a planning application and within the given time scales. The final decision is made by the Planning Authority and not the Parish Council.

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