Issue no. 52 – April 2014.
by Paul Chapman.
I confess that local government organisation might not be of huge interest to many people, perhaps because the different levels of administration and varying responsibilities are a bit of a mystery. So I was pleased to be invited by the chairman and clerk to Holymoorside and Walton Parish Council to discover how a local parish council fits into the structure.
We met in Holymoorside Village Hall, a charming traditional rural community building set at the heart of the village and surrounded by well-kept grounds, including children’s play area and a large recreation field with picnic tables and bordered by the River Hipper.
Sitting with chairman Martin Thacker MBE and clerk to the council, Kate Brailsford, I learned that the formation of parish councils dates back to 1894, under the Local Government Act which gave responsibility for ‘local oversight of civic duties in rural towns and villages. Today the parish council is the first tier of local government.
However, only about 35% of the country’s population lives within a parish council. In the area covered by the distribution of S40 magazine, Holymoorside and Walton is the only one – representing 2000 residents. This parish is bordered by Baslow Road and Matlock Road covering the village of Holymoorside and its outlying rural community from Stonedge in the West and including part of Walton at Acorn Ridge on the East side.
The majority of the Walton community, (along with the rest of our S40 coverage) is part of a two tier system, without Parish Council representation. Our representatives are ward councillors in Chesterfield Borough Council. Chesterfield Borough Council with its administration centre at Chesterfield Town Hall is the lower part of this two tier system with Derbyshire County Council being the upper tier.
Martin explained “Holymoorside and Walton Parish Council is part of a three tier system – its activities are financed by middle tier North East Derbyshire District Council (NEDDC), whose administrative centre is in Saltergate, Chesterfield. NEDDC itself is under the control of upper tier authority, also from Derbyshire County Council.”
“Unlike these upper tiers, Parish Councils are generally non political. As a District Councillor, representing the Brampton and Walton Ward for the Conservative Party I do have political allegiance in that particular role. However, as a member of Holymoorside and Walton Parish Council, along with my colleagues who may have their own personal political views, these are not part of the discussions at meetings.”
“We meet in the Village Hall, and all 10 councillors work together effectively in the best interests of the community we represent. The members are volunteers and receive no remuneration, the only paid position being that of the Clerk to the Council, whose busy job it is to put the decisions of the councillors into action”.
Parish clerk, Kate explained the responsibilities of the council. “We have to take care of the parish property and help maintain local services, within a carefully controlled budget. Our most valuable asset is the Village Hall, which is used for a large number of local organisations for their meetings, activities and events. We arrange the hiring of the hall and rooms, and maintain on-going cleaning and repairs. We also look after the sports facilities, the tennis courts, bowling green, play area, memorial garden, allotments, parish footpaths, grit bins and bus shelters.”
Martin added “We have a responsibility to oversee planning applications and act as a voice for residents. The community is kept advised of issues to be discussed and of decisions. A quarterly newsletter is delivered to every household and a comprehensive website is kept up to date”.
In addition the council are responsible for a number of events that take place throughout the year. This year as part of ‘Derbyshire Lives Through The World Wars’ an event is planned for Saturday 23 August which coincides with the Battle of Mons.
An annual Parish boundary walk is also arranged – councillors and residents take part together providing a great opportunity to meet informally.
“All this, together with sitting on the necessary committees, keeps the council members, and especially the clerk, pretty busy. The council strap line is ‘Promoting Parish Pride’ and we believe it is our role to preserve the rural character of the area and to reward those who make a difference. Many of the councillors have served the community conscientiously for many years. I think they would all agree that it is a privilege to do so.”
If you have thoughts, concerns or issues you’d like to discuss, the Parish Council meet on the first Tuesday of each month at Holymoorside Village Hall – there is always an opportunity for public speaking before the meeting where any parish resident can address the council.
For more information on the work of the council and its members please contact the Parish Clerk, Kate on 01246 271495, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.holymoorsideandwaltonparishcouncil.co.uk
To find out about using the village hall facilities for your classes, party or special event please call Marion, the Administration Assistant on 02146 569882 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org