Who are these people and what do they do?
Parish Councillors are no different to you and me except that they have made the decision to ‘get involved’ and are fortunate enough to have been elected or co-opted on to the council.
The Parish Council is made up of 16 councillors, 4 from each ‘ward’, or area, in the village and they come on to the Parish Council in a number of different ways but mainly at election time (every four years) or if there is a casual vacancy. Please remember this is an ‘easy’ guide and there are a number of variations not necessarily included here.
Councillors are all ages and come with a very diverse range of life experiences – from nursing, accounting, private enterprise, teaching, the legal profession, home-making and more. Some are single, some parents/grandparents and whilst some have lived in the village for more than 25 years, others are new residents. More importantly, although some have experience of committees, etc., some don’t but still bring life experiences and enthusiasm. The one thing they all have in common is that they are all committed to ensuring that Ruddington gets the best value for money it can afford.
So, how do you get on the Parish Council other than at election time?
Occasionally a councillor resigns due to personal circumstances and a casual vacancy is advertised. If the borough receives 10 or more requests for an election, one may be held but if the borough does not receive requests for an election, the Parish Council can co-opt. It advertises the vacancy and asks that eligible members of the public apply within a specific timescale. A working group from the Parish Council then sits down with the candidate/s and after a chat and a few questions, votes to fill the vacancy with the most suitable candidate at that time. All very painless, straight forward and friendly – councillors don’t bite and many have been through the process so are keen to ensure it is fair and not stressful.
Once a councillor, you will be asked to join one of the committees as well as attending Parish Council meetings – generally seven a year. Members of the public are also encouraged to attend these meetings so that they can see the councillors at work and ensure that their views are heard. Smaller groups / working groups are often formed to look deeper in to specific issues and can then report back to the appropriate committee in greater depth so this is an opportunity to really get your teeth in to something you feel strongly about.
Being a Parish Councillor can be a very rewarding and interesting role – keep your eyes open for a vacancy and get involved.
By Linda Cooke
Next month – Part 3 – Council Meetings