Functions of the Collingbourne Kingston Parish Council
The Collingbourne Kingston Parish Council has seven locally elected members and the services of a part-time paid Clerk.
Councils are the smallest unit of government and also the one closest to their electorate. Their powers, the exercise of which are almost all discretionary, derive expressly, or by reasonable implication, from parliamentary statutes. The only powers which are obligatory are the provision of allotments where there is sufficient demand and space to provide them, and the maintenance of a closed churchyard if this had been transferred to the council.
Parish Councils’ discretionary powers are surprisingly wide. For example, a Council can run a village hall, playing fields, or Council offices, can own property, manage burial grounds, make bylaws, maintain public clocks, footpaths, lighting, open spaces, public conveniences and war memorials, provide wayside seats, bus shelters, boundary signs, additional litter bins, and arrange cleaning, litter picking and pavement sweeping.
The cost of the services and maintenance arranged by the Council for the benefit of its residents comes from the Precept; this is the money the Parish Council requests from residents of the village via the Council Tax bill, collected in this instance by the Wiltshire Council. A Parish Council can also collect a so called ‘free resource’ of up to £5 per elector each year for funding items that are not covered by statute, which us usually used for making donations.
The Clerk is required to maintain the account books, organize contracts or maintenance work etc. subject to the Council’s decisions, prepare the annual budget estimates for the setting of the Precept, and make sure the Council keeps solvent. The Clerk reports to the Responsible Financial Officer of the Parish Council.
Councils are also often consulted by higher authorities, for example, they receive notice of roadworks and are asked to comment on planning applications. This can lead to some popular confusion: Councils are not the planning authority and their comments have no special force over and above anyone else’s, they just ensure that at least some local opinion is heard. Councils also get invited to attend all sorts of meetings and panels that do tend to proliferate these days.
The Collingbourne Kingston Parish Council keeps residents abreast of its activities by means of regular contributions to The Courier, the locally produced monthly magazine for the Everleigh and both Collingbourne villages. There is also a dedicated website for Collingbourne Kingston which publishes the approved minutes of the Council’s most recent meeting, the agenda of forthcoming meetings and other information such as the history of the village, the special areas of responsibility of each Councillor and useful telephone numbers.