Hawkley Community Information: Council's Responsiblilties

What are the responsibilities of Hawkley Parish Council?




Parish Council
Parish councils are the first tier of government in most of non-metropolitan England. While there are a growing number of parish councils in the larger towns, cities and metropolitan areas parish councils are not generally found in urban areas of England. Parish councils have traditionally been associated with rural areas and small towns and it remains so today. Around fourteen million people in over eight thousand parish councils enjoy this elected first tier of government. Because of the rural bias many parish councils have small populations, with around 40% containing less than five hundred inhabitants. In contrast 10% of parish councils have populations of over five thousand. These account for over half of the population represented by parish councils and around 65% of expenditure (Ellwood et al, 1992, 1998). The range of parish council populations is from one hundred to seventy thousand, with budgets from zero to more than a million pounds. Parish councils usually number somewhere between five and twenty councillors. These data illustrate the enormous differences in population, expenditure and activity which characterises the world of parish councils. All councils must appoint a Clerk and a Responsible Financial Officer (RFO). Normally these are the same person and the appointment is part-time, often involving no more than a few hours a week. Clerks may have had no training for their role. Parish councils must hold at least four full council meetings each year. Some hold as many as twelve. The larger and more active councils also hold meetings of specialist committees, often dealing with planning and finance matters.

Hawkley Parish Council serves one of the smaller Parishes comprising a population of around 440 people. It looks after the interests of the parish by doing what it is empowered to do, and drawing other needs to the attention of the relevant authority, for instance, problems with roads. It also responds to consultation from other authorities. It looks after Parish property, which includes the bus shelters, seats (one by Hawkley church and one in Empshott by the old Post Office) and the parish notice boards. It expresses its views on planning applications to District and County Planning Committees. It is not able to make decisions on planning matters. It is also responsible for Upper and Lower Greens at Hawkley and the small piece of land next to Empshott Hut (to the East of the path) which it holds in trust for the Parish; it arranges for the maintenance including grass cutting for these. It also provides a service of a lengthman to look after the litter collection and some roadside ditch and grip clearance, under contract from the District and County Councils.

The responsibilities and the total budget for the Parish are both small, the Precept (that is the amount of money ordered from the District Council to be collected with the Council tax) is around £7000 per annum. This also has to pay for audit each year and elections every four years. Council members, who are unpaid, undertake further voluntary work in inspecting footpaths and liasing with landowners to request they meet their obligations on maintaining paths, and stiles and liasing with Hampshire County Council Rights of Way and Roads departments on maintenace issues.The Clerk and the Chairman represent the Council on Hampshire Association of Local Councils (HALC).