Effingham Parish Council
Effingham Parish Council sees its role as to represent the interests of the local Effingham community, protect the sustainable environment, and maintain the quality of life of our residents by robustly carrying out the Parish Council's responsibilities.
- for information about the civil parish of Effingham, click here.
- for various policies and procedures governing the Parish Council, click here.
- for matters relating to Freedom of Information, click here.
What does the Parish Council do?
The civil parish of Effingham and Effingham Parish Council have been in existence since 1894. The Council meets once a month to consider and decide matters on behalf of all residents. There are ten councillors who are each elected to serve for four years.
- for a list of Effingham’s current councillors, click here.
Parish councils and civil parishes are the grass-roots tier of local government - not to be confused with parochial church councils and ecclesiastical parishes. ‘Above’ Effingham Parish Council is Guildford Borough Council, and above that, Surrey County Council.
Effingham Parish Council has a range of powers and duties based in national legislation. It must use these for the benefit of the parish as a whole. For instance, it has the power to provide a Burial Ground (which it has used) and the duty to provide allotments if requested (which it has fulfilled). There are many other opportunities to improve the existing appearance or facilities of the village and to steer new development, for instance related to highways matters or planning applications.
Every year the Parish Council draws up a budget and works out how much money will be needed to do this. This is the village precept which is collected from residents as part of their council tax. Effingham Parish Council regards the raising and spending of public money as a matter of high trust.
Parish councils really ‘exist’ only for the duration of their council meetings, in the sense that decisions can be made only during the meetings. In the gaps between, individual parish councillors might give their own personal view on any matter, but they may not present their own opinion as ‘the view of the parish council’.
What do the Parish Councillors do?
With very few exceptions, anyone who has registered themselves on the electoral roll can stand for election as a parish councillor. Elections come round every four years as a matter of course, but may be more frequent if a place becomes vacant. Effingham has two wards (north and south of the A246), and there are five councillors for each ward.
Once elected, parish councillors use their own knowledge, experiences and judgement so that decisions can be made in the best interests of the majority of residents. It is important to be impartial and there is a Code of Conduct which Effingham Parish Councillors observe stringently. This means, for instance, that any councillor affected personally by a particular debate might ‘declare an interest’ and then not take part, or even, in some circumstances, withdraw from the room altogether, during discussion of that particular item.
Between parish council meetings Effingham Parish Councillors are very hard-working. For example, they research the detail of planning applications, hear about residents’ problems and try to find ways of resolving them, monitor roads, inspect Rights of Way, attend Inquiries and many other meetings, liaise with councillors or particular groups or residents from neighbouring communities, and so on. These are just a few of the activities that between them they cover, from health provision to Heath View, from Neighbourhood policing to Norwood Close. Across the board, these ten individuals place an enormous amount of energy and diverse knowledge at the service of the parish.
- for a list of Effingham’s current councillors, click here.
What does the Parish Clerk do?
A parish clerk is the partner of the parish council. They are mutually supportive and could not really exist without each other. Parish councillors are elected by residents. The Clerk is paid for by residents, because the salary is part of the village precept.
The Clerk is the ‘Proper Officer’ of the parish council. This is a legal way of saying ‘point of contact’. A parish council needs a formal address to which legal papers and documents (such as planning applications, audit requirements, electoral information etc) can be sent, and the Clerk is the person whose name and address is used for this formal role. The Clerk is the person to whom all correspondence for the council as a whole, or individual parish councillors, should be sent, and replies from the parish council will come via the Clerk. This makes sure that the lines of communication are kept simple and uncomplicated. Some Clerks are employed full-time and some are part-time, but either way, they make it possible for a parish council to be contacted in the gaps between parish council meetings.
The Clerk is also the ‘Responsible Financial Officer’ of the council. This means that in law the Clerk is personally liable for the financial probity of the parish council – in other words, that all precept money is budgeted for, spent in accordance with proper powers, and that the accounts are correctly drawn up and audited.
Clerks draw up the Agendas for each parish council meeting (usually in discussion with the Chairman of course). By law, they must ensure that each parish councillor receives personally (ie at their home address) a summons and an Agenda for each parish council meeting no less than three working days before an ordinary meeting. The Agenda to the public must also be published at the same time. Usually there is a certain amount of background information to be read in advance of the debates, and the Clerk researches and collates these reports. An important aspect is to advise on any legal considerations that would have to be borne in mind. For instance, in Effingham, legal points relating to the Parish Council’s role as custodian trustee of various properties come up.
After a parish council meeting, the Clerk produces the ‘Minutes’ which is the legal document recording what was decided, and then sees to it that the decisions are implemented. This might mean anything from submitting the parish council’s comments on planning applications to reporting highways defects, circulating information to residents or moving forward particular projects such as improvement of paths etc.
In Effingham the Clerk also manages the Burial Ground, the allotments and the Parish Room.
- for contact details of the current Parish Clerk, click here
- for the names of previous Clerks and Chairmen who have served Effingham Parish Council, since its inception in 1894, click here and here, respectively.