Parish Council Role
Parish Councils, along with Town Councils, are elected bodies that provide the first tier of local government. There are over 10,000 Parish Councils in England, serving largely rural communities.
Parish and Town Councils have the power but not an obligation to be involved in a wide range of activities and services. With that goes the power if required to raise income through a local element of council tax (a ‘precept’) although some rely solely on alternative sources of income. As a result, most have relatively modest budgets which do not provide the means to run large scale public services. They instead focus typically on activities such as managing parks and common land, footpaths, allotments, community centres, cemeteries, war memorials, street lighting, car parks and other local amenities. Chearsley Parish Council is typical in this respect, although it has also dedicated a lot of resource to traffic calming measures. It does not manage the Village Hall which is managed by a Trustees Committee, nor the allotments which are administered by the Church.
More broadly, Parish Councils exercise a general consultative role on behalf of local people: for instance, they have statutory consultation rights on planning matters. They can play a vital part in representing the interests of the community they serve and improving the quality of life and the local environment. Furthermore, they can influence decision makers and consequently impact the delivery of services to meet local needs.
Higher tiers of local government are known as principal councils or authorities. In Buckinghamshire there is just one higher tier, the principal authority being Buckinghamshire Council which since 2020 has been a Unitary Council. Principal authorities have many legal duties to deliver services such as education, housing, town and country planning, transport, environmental health and social services. Local Councils have the legal power to act in many of these areas but very few duties, which gives them greater freedom to choose what areas they wish to be involved with.
Buckinghamshire Council has established a number of Community Boards as a prime route for communications with its residents. Chearsley Parish Council is active in the Haddenham and Waddesdon Community Board and its Working Groups, campaigning for the interests of the village as well as taking an interest in matters affecting the County more generally.
At a national level, Parish and Town Councils are represented by the National Association of Local Councils, and its county-level associations.
Chearsley Parish Council
Chearsley Parish Council maintains a busy programme of maintenance and improvement work in the village.
One of our main concerns is to make the busy main traffic routes through the village safer for everyone, by introducing speed control measures and taking what steps we can to reduce the volumes of heavy freight traffic. Details of this Traffic Calming work are here. This is an ongoing programme that started in 2017, and is expected to continue for some time to come.
Linked to this is work is protecting the village infrastructure from vehicle damage. The main tool here is installing additional kerbing and/or increasing kerbing heights, e.g. at the corners of the Green. Kerbing is also being installed at other locations in the village and this programme is expected to continue.
Another major activity is tree maintenance. A register of all trees in the village on public land has been drawn up and a regular schedule of maintenance work developed. We are also focussing on maintaining the verges, with particular focus on the historic sunken lanes.
In the Autumn of each year, a programme of work is developed for the following financial year. This is subject to a financial assessment and annual budget that is developed each December.
In November 21 the Council adopted a formal position of opposition to the Government’s Vision for major housing developments in the Ox-Cam ARC. The Resolution adopted by the Council is here.
Other Parish Council pages
Useful Links to neighbouring Parish Councils and Buckinghamshire Council