What is a parish council?
A parish or local council is the smallest administrative unit within the hierarchy of local government i.e. counties, unitary authorities, districts and parishes. Ufford is one of 6 parishes within Barnack Ward which in turn is one of 24 Wards within the Peterborough City Council Unitary Authority.
Local councils were established by legislation in 1894 and despite the commonly-used name of Parish Council have nothing to do with the parish church or its governing body. The name stuck because the old parish church boundaries were used as the basis for creating the new local councils. The Parish of Ufford is administered by the Parish Council which is a directly elected body. The most recent local elections were held in May 2016 and the next will be in 2020.
There are 5 council members representing 194 electors. The register of electors is updated annually and all registered adults over the age of 18 are entitled to vote in the local election. Local Council elections are unique in that you have as many votes as there are council seats, so in our village you can vote for up to 5 different candidates (if enough people stand!).
It is a generally held view, certainly as far as Ufford is concerned, that national party politics have no place at all in parish council activities. Ufford Parish Council (UPC) is solely concerned with local people, local issues and ensuring that the interests of the village as a whole are represented to Peterborough City Council (PCC).
What does the Council actually do?
Parish councils have statutory rights to undertake a wide range of activities although many choose not to exercise all of their powers and as a small council Ufford looks to Peterborough City Council to carry out most services.
UPC is consulted on all of the planning applications that affect the parish. All comments and/or objections have to be based on planning rules rather than aesthetic judgement and are made to PCC as the planning authority. PCC then makes the final decision based on current policy and regulations.
Just for the record, it is inadmissible to say “it’s too big”, “it’s ugly”, “it spoils my view” or even “we don’t want it in our village” when making comments. This can sometimes cause great frustration, particularly when the parish council appears to condone an unpopular proposal when actually it is trying to minimise the impact of something it does not have the power to prevent.
Parish councils also act as an interface between the village and local government agencies and service providers, especially the police, highways, water, and environmental authorities.
UPC is also consulted by many organisations, most of the time this involves expressing the likely views of the village but if the council feels a topic is sufficiently important, it will call a public meeting where individuals have the opportunity to give their personal responses.
UPC has worked with PCC in the production of the Supplementary Planning Document which ensures that development in the village meets agreed guidelines as far as possible. This is due to be updated by the Peterborough Local Plan which is currently being developed. See our Current Issues page for details.
Several possible sources of external funding are available to the council – the local precept pays for the council’s administration and core work. In addition, grants can occasionally be obtained from Peterborough City Council and other organisations, for specific needs or projects.
Precepts are, in effect, local community charges raised on behalf of the Parish Council by PCC as part of their annual Council Tax charges each year. UPC will receive £7,419.68 for the year 2016/17. This represents less than £0.75 per week for each elector in the parish and is unchanged from 2015/16.
Ufford Parish Council has the power to use its reserves to help local community projects. A Donations and Grants Policy has been adopted to formalise the way these funds are awarded. New and established community organisations are invited to apply and should approach the Clerk in the first instance.
Do we need a Parish Council?
There are some people who feel that parish councils are unnecessary and that their activities would be better handled by “somebody else”. It is one point of view but, not surprisingly, UPC believes in making sure things get done and not relying on somebody else.
If you have a view why not come along to one of our meetings. They are held on the second Tuesday of every month except August, 7.30pm in the Village Hall. Everyone is welcome and each meeting includes an item for Public comments.