What is a Parish Council

What services can the Council provide?

A Parish Council has an overall responsibility for the well-being of its local community. Its work falls into three main categories:

  • representing the local community
  • delivering services to meet local requirements
  • striving to improve quality of life within the parish

A Parish Council might provide and/or maintain some of the following services:

  • Bridleways
  • Footpaths
  • Community Transport Scheme

It can also work with Copeland Borough and Cumbria County Council for other services, as follows:

  • Street cleaning
  • Street and Footway lighting
  • Litter bins
  • Planning

How does it make decisions?

The Parish Council is made up of 8 councillors who meet regularly to make decisions on the work and direction of the council. As an elected body, the parish council is an “it” and, through its councillors, is responsible to the people it represents – the local community.

Attending a council meeting is the best way to find out what it does. Have a look at the other pages on this website to see what the Parish Council has been dealing with recently.

The Parish Council meets on Tuesday nights at Tarnside Caravan Site, Braystones. Please see Minutes and Agenda pages on website or a Parish noticeboard.

Where does it get its money from?

Each year the Parish Council asks for a sum of money, called a ‘precept’, which is collected through your council tax. This money is used by the parish council to improve facilities and services for local people and run the Council. Parish councils can also apply for grants and loans.

How are parish or town councillors elected?

Parish Councillors are elected to represent a geographical area known as a Parish. They are elected by people who live in the area.

The Parish is due to have an election in 2015.

What do parish or town councillors do?

Councillors have three main areas of work:

  • Decision-making: through attending meetings and committees with other elected members, councillors decide which activities to support, where money should be spent, what services should be delivered and what policies should be implemented;
  • Monitoring: councillors make sure that their decisions lead to efficient and effective services by keeping an eye on how well things are working;
  • Getting involved locally: as local representatives, councillors have responsibilities towards their parishioners and local organisations. This often depends on what the councillor wants to achieve and how much time is available.

The day-to-day work of a councillor may include:

  • going to meetings of local organisations
  • going to meetings of bodies that affect the wider community.
  • bringing parishioners concerns to the attention of the council.

Could I be a parish councillor?

As a councillor you can become a voice for your community and affect real change. It helps if you’re a “people person” who enjoys talking to other residents but, more importantly, you need to have the concerns and best interests of the parish as a whole at heart. Councillors are community leaders and should represent the aspirations of the public that they serve.

Parish councils are the most local part of our democratic system and are closest to the public.

How much time does it take up & when?

On average, less than a couple of 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. Council meetings are always held in the evening.

Talking and listening to your fellow parishioners can be done at any time but you must be able to spend a couple of hours attending the Council meeting held on a Tuesday.

Can I become a Parish Councillor?

Most people are. However there are a few basic rules. You have to be:

  • a British citizen, or a citizen of the Commonwealth or the European Union, and
  • 18 years or older on the day you become nominated for election, and
  • live or work in or near the parish, within 3miles

You cannot stand for election if you:

  • are the 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 prison sentence (whether suspended or not) for a period of over three months without the option of a fine. There are also some other disqualifications relating to candidacy, please visit Copeland Borough Councils website for these.