How the Parish Council relates to other councils
In England, we have one of the most complex local government structures to be found anywhere and it can often be hard to see exactly where our Parish Council fits in. In Warwickshire, there are three tiers of local government:
- County Council (in our case Warwickshire County Council);
- District Council (in our case we are in Stratford upon Avon District Council); and at the very local level
- Parish Council (which covers Snitterfield, Pathlow and Heath End).
In all three Councils, there are councillors who are elected by you; usually for a four year term and they have responsibilities that differ dependent upon the tier of council.
The County Council
Our County Council (Warwickshire) is based in Shire Hall in Warwick, with different administrative buildings spread throughout the county. It is largely responsible for the care and support for vulnerable people, whether the elderly or younger people and families who require some form of care and help. The County Council still has some key responsibilities in learning, education and culture and runs our libraries and museums as an example of this, keeping some of the very distinctive heritage facilities that distinguish our historic council. Warwickshire County Council also has an important role in maintaining a significant part of our local road network as well as certain lighting on main roads. All County Councillors are representatives of ‘divisions’ that is the geographical boundary of their electorate – our County Councillor, Anne Parry, represents the Wellesbourne Division.
The District Council
So what does the District Council (Stratford) do that is different from the County? In fact they are very distinct differences – the District Council ensures our household waste is collected and the County has responsibilities for disposal. One key function is that of Planning. If you wish to make extensions to your home or even build a new estate then it is Stratford District Council that is the key authority here. The District also has important functions in housing, leisure and most notably in collecting council tax. It collects local taxes for the District, on behalf of the county and you will also see from your council tax bill it also collects local taxes towards policing and Fire and Rescue, although here in Warwickshire, Fire and Rescue is part of the County Council.
The Parish Council
Snitterfield Parish Council has responsibility for a number of disparate issues including allotments, bus shelters, community centres, footpaths, lighting of certain roads, litter bins, the acquisition and sale of land in its parish, tree planting, public conveniences, provision of recreation grounds and facilities, public seating, open spaces (eg greens and ponds), signs and place names.
In addition parish councils can spend a limited amount of money on anything they deem of benefit to the community.
Parish councils must be notified of, and display for residents, any planning applications for the area. Any comments submitted to the planning authority by the parish council must be taken into account.
Although we have a rather complex structure of local government here each of the tiers are finding it essential to work together better – to coordinate planning, ensuring that we attract employers that keep the local economy growing and to ensure we can deal with issues that are the concern of many such as the protection of the environment and we deal effectively with some of those things that can annoy many of us and challenge our predominantly rural way of life.
Our County and District Councillors work hard to represent you and we are fortunate here in Snitterfield to have excellent working relationships across all the tiers of Local Government – if you want to know more, the County Council as well as Stratford District has many meetings that open to the public as we the Parish Council do on the second Monday of the month – come along if you want to find out more.
Adapted from Long Itchington Parish Council website.