Council FAQ (Frequenty Asked Questions)
Q: So what does the Parish Council actually do?
The Council has responsibility for maintaining the play areas at both Harbury and Deppers Bridge, the playing fields, the Village Greens, all the grass verges within the Parish Boundary, the Cemetery and the Cemetery Chapel, all the street lights in the village and the Pineham Farm Allotments.
In addition to this, the Council is a consultee on a wide range of issues from all planning applications to Highways issues. An important part of the Council's job is to represent the community's views at District, County and National level. The Council is made up of ten volunteers and employs one part-time clerk.
Q: Where does the Council get its money from?
Every January, the Council presents a budget to its members for the next financial year. Once the budget has been accepted the Council formally requests a 'precept' from Stratford District Council. This is the amount that the Council thinks it needs to carry out all its plans for the next year. The precept is included in the Council Tax bill which all households receive.
Q: I'm interested in becoming a Parish Councillor – how do I go about it?
At present the Parish Council membership is full but, if a vacancy arose, the Council would be able to fill it by 'co-option'. This means that the Council would invite applicants to apply by putting up notices and putting an article in the Harbury News. Anyone interested would need to write a brief letter telling the Council about themselves and their reasons for wanting to be a Parish Councillor.
All applicants are then invited to a meeting of the Council where the members vote to decide who should be co-opted. Successful candidates are then invited to join the Council. In addition to this, the whole Council has to stand for re-election every four year and this is a good chance for new candidates to put their names forward.
Q: So at election time, everyone in the village will have the chance to vote on who is on the Parish Council?
Not necessarily. If there are the same amount of candidates or fewer for the posts available (currently nine for Harbury and one for Deppers Bridge) then the election will be deemed to be 'uncontested'. This means that there is no need for voters to actually choose the candidates they would like.
If there are more candidates than vacancies however, a full election will be held at the same time as the District elections.
Q: I would be interested in putting my name forward as a Councillor but I've never done anything like this before – does this matter?
No. The most important thing for Parish Councillors is that they should be genuinely interested in the community they are serving and want the best for that community. The Parish Council currently has people on it of all ages and all walks of life and would encourage any interested residents from all sectors of the community to apply. Generally speaking, you must either live in the village or have a strong village connection – such as owning a business here. For full details on the application criteria please contact the Parish Clerk.
Q: What's the Council's role in planning applications?
The Parish Council is a consultee – along with other people who Stratford District Council feel may be affected by the application such as near neighbours. The Parish Council does not have the final say on whether a planning application is granted or not – that role is performed by Stratford District Council.
Q: Why are all planning applications not discussed at the Parish Council meeting?
Most planning applications are dealt with under 'delegated powers'. This means that a small group of Councillors look at the application and then power is deferred to the clerk, in consultation, with them to make the final response to SDC. A report is then sent to the Council every month so that members can see what all the responses were.
The Parish Council is under pressure from the District to get back responses as quickly as possible (the District in turn are under pressure to deal with applications as quickly as possible.) Large or controversial applications will normally be discussed at a Full Meeting of the Council.
If you have concerns about a particular application or would like more information on how to make a response please contact the Parish Clerk.
Q: I'm not very happy about how the Council has handled something – how do I complain?
Please contact either the Clerk or Chairman. Details are on our Contact Us page.
All complaints will be treated in the strictest confidence. Harbury Parish Council has a formal complaints procedure which is available on request from the Clerk.
Q: I've got no idea who my local Councillors are – how do I find out?
See our Councillors page for a full list of Parish, District and County Councillors together with contact details. Alternatively, come along to a 'Councillor's Surgery' held every other month on a Saturday morning outside the Harbury Supermarket.
Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Harbury Parish Council is committed to proactively publishing information for the benefit of the community. A copy of the Model Publication Scheme can be read on our Policies and Documents page.
A new Code of Conduct was formally adopted by Harbury Parish Council at its meeting on 26 July 2012. It replaces the former model code of 2007 which was abolished with effect from 1 July 2012. The new code complies with the requirements of the Localism Act 2011. Please see our Policies and Documents page.
The Parish Council periodically makes funds available for community organisations or activities. It will apply criteria when awarding grants as detailed in the document on our Policies and Documents page.
Other documents relating to the Parish Council can be read on our Policies and Documents page.