Are you PC?
In our sound bite society where the dramatic is all we are supplied, it is far from fashionable to think anything other than ill of our maligned politicians. We do though need government as the alternative would result in an even less savoury outcome. Recognising this need, at its lowest level (in terms of power rather than integrity!), sits the Parish Council, which represents the village. For the village to function in all manner of ways the Parish Council exists and for the Parish Council to function it needs manpower; hence the question, ‘Are you PC’? In short Yelvertoft PC needs new blood.
Recognising this recruitment need, as the newest to the role of Parish Councillor, it was suggested that I might like to give my thoughts on my time on the YPC. This is not from the perspective of setting out roles and responsibilities, but maybe through my newly acquired rose coloured spectacles! I am not sure I could in all honesty or would I want to glamorise the job. That said it needs doing and at least with the intention of competence and with the right humour.
So, what’s it like? First impressions, a bit formal, which is hardly surprising given that whilst rules may be for the guidance of wise men and the observance of fools, a ‘governing body’ must have structure. In all seriousness the rules exist for consistency and I suppose protection of the officers. Do they stop debate or opinion? No, most definitely not. Likewise, it is my experience that they haven’t got in the way of ‘doing’. Understanding what you can and can’t do has slowed me down on occasion, but I am still learning. Frustrating perhaps rather than obstructive and there is no good reason to consider that things can’t get done.
Why did I end up on YPC? Well it wasn’t for the pay (there is none), I wasn’t looking for work and I have never considered local government a calling. No, my inclusion in the team results from a bit of arm twisting on my driveway, which piqued my curiosity sufficiently for me to attend a PC meeting. On doing so I realised that the incumbents didn’t have two heads and debate seemed civil and done in good humour. Since joining I have felt confident to challenge direction of projects and strategies. Hopefully I am adding value in some manner although I know I ask too many questions! I have found it rewarding, getting the Neighbourhood Watch going again, mapping footpaths and as I say hopefully challenging constructively.
The people on the YPC are not only approachable and friendly, but are getting things done. It may not always be obvious and perfection takes a little while, but all are working for the benefit of the village. That seems to me to be a worthy goal, but there is much to be done to deliver the best for the community. Any venture can only be as good as its people, both individually and as a collective. Does that mean you must have specific skills? Absolutely not, to my mind it’s about having an opinion, the right attitude and a will to put it over to help get things done. If that’s you I would strongly urge you to consider a position on your council. As I say it can be rewarding and amusing.
I am sure many of you know councillors with whom you can chat about YPC. That said if anyone would like to speak to me personally my numbers are listed below. If not come to a meeting and observe the menagerie!
Miles Odell – 01788 823255 or 07979 530272
WOULD YOU MAKE A GOOD PARISH COUNCILLOR?
Have you ever considered volunteering to become a Parish Councillor? If the answer is no, then you should reconsider. Here are a few reasons why you should give the role your consideration:
- You would like to help keep the Parish a desirable place to live
- If you’re female or under 25 then have a good think, as women and youngsters are under-represented in local authorities
- You are interested in planning and development
- Be a voice for the people of the Parish
- Training and support are available – great opportunity for the younger generation!
- As a resident your opinions are important
Why become a Parish Councillor?
Seeing your community change for the better, as a result of decisions you have helped to make, is something that can give you a sense of achievement and pride. The Parish Council helps to ensure the area continues to be a desirable place to live, go to school, work and visit.
What decisions do Parish Councils make?
Parish councils make all kinds of decisions on issues that affect their local community. Probably the most common topics are planning matters, highways issues and campaigning for and delivering better services and facilities. It’s true to say that on their own, parish councils have limited powers to make decisions, but they do have the ability to negotiate with, and the power to influence, those other organisations that do make the final decisions. In this respect parish councils are extremely powerful.
How much time does it take up? We meet 10 times p.a. Meetings usually last three hours, depending on the agenda set for the meeting to discuss. In addition to the regular meetings, councillors are occasionally required to attend other meetings. Such meetings won’t happen too frequently, so it’s not going to take over your life.
What support is there?
The Parish Council is supported by NCALC, which offers advice and training. The other councillors are friendly and always there to help. The role of the Clerk is to support the Parish Council. The clerk carries out administration tasks, acts as legal adviser/researcher and liaises with outside agencies. The role of parish councillor is voluntary but expenses can be paid. We have a training budget for Councillors to attend any training course they require to carry out their duties.
Don’t take our word for it! The best way to find out what it’s like to be a parish councillor is to talk to someone who’s doing it now. Come along to a Parish Council meeting, or speak to one of our councillors and find out what they think of the role, or contact the Clerk.