Parish Councils are essentially the first tier of local government with a wide assortment of powers and duties that relate to local matters, such as open space, allotments, play areas, footpaths, public benches, bus shelters and car parks. They are based on the civil parish boundary, and have no connection with the Parochial Church Councils (PCC) which are the executive committees of Church of England parishes. Parish councils provide a vital link on local issues to the higher tiers of local government; for Effingham, that means Guildford Borough Council and Surrey County Council.
The role of Effingham Parish Council is to represent the needs and interests of our community, deliver services that meet local needs, protect the environment and promote the social and economic welfare of residents. In terms of the scope of our powers and duties, we have the power to provide facilities or contribute to their provision by others, a duty to provide allotments where required, the ability to improve the appearance of the village and (as statutory consultees) to make recommendations to Guildford Borough Councilon local planning matters. We may also support arts and crafts, sponsor public events, provide grants and promote tourism to the area, and we liaise with Surrey County Council on schools, traffic and highways matters.
Effingham is a small community of about 2500 residents perched on the edge of the North Downs. The parish council was established in 1894 and has four schools within or next to the parish (two state, two independent), three churches, a selection of shops including a post office, a golf club, two public houses and a village hall set within the King George V playing fields – 33 acres of green open space. The parish boundary can be seen in black on the map.
The parish council meets once a month to consider local matters, planning applications and any concerns referred to us by residents, Guildford Borough Council, Surrey County Council or central government.
Our meetings are open to the public, and residents have the opportunity to raise concerns about local matters and put questions to councillors, giving notice in advance to the Clerk or Chairman. More information on our meetings can be found here.
We also have several working groups for specific purposes like transport or planning. Working group members are able to explore issues more fully and make recommendations to the full council.
We have up to 10 parish councillors who are each elected to serve for four years. In carrying out their duties, councillors observe a code of conduct and if a councillor is connected to a debate in some way then they must declare an interest and not participate.
Our councillors are all volunteers, and they work hard to represent the views of residents on important local matters, from service delivery and crime prevention to open spaces and road safety. In a typical month, our councillors may attend local meetings, research planning applications, monitor roads, attend inquiries or meet with community groups or individual residents.
Councillors are supported in their work by the clerk, who is employed by the parish council with a salary paid from the precept. The clerk is the ‘proper officer’ of the council and is the main point of contact for official correspondence and documentation, such as audit requirements and electoral information.
All correspondence for the council, or its councillors, should be sent to the clerk who in turn will respond. This makes sure that our lines of communication are simple, uncomplicated and open. The clerk is also the ‘responsible financial officer’ of the council and is responsible for its financial probity. The clerk ensures that the precept is spent in accordance with proper powers set out in legislation and that the accounts are correctly drawn up and audited.
The clerk also prepares the agenda for each council meeting, in discussion with the chairman, and publishes this on the council website and the notice board (by the shops on The Street). The clerk must also ensure that each councillor receives a personal summons and the agenda for each meeting, no less than three working days before the meeting. The clerk also prepares and distributes background information to councillors and draws attention to relevant legal considerations. After each meeting, the clerk will produce the minutes which provide an official record of what was decided and ensure that these decisions are implemented.
The clerk also manages the parish council‘s burial ground, the allotments and the Parish Room. To contact the clerk, click here.
How we are funded
Every year the parish council draws up a budget and works out how much money will be needed to fund its administration and provide local services and facilities. This funding is raised via the precept which is collected by Guildford Borough Council as part of the council tax and passed back to the parish council.