Parish councils

Introduction

Parish councils are the first tier of governance and the first point of contact for anyone wishing to raise a community issue. They have a wide range of responsibilities including community buildings, planning permissions and decisions, street lighting, allotments and can represent the rural communities on some council committees. 

They are legally obliged to hold at least one meeting a year. Most meet on a six-weekly cycle to discuss parish business and hear from local residents. In addition, any committees or sub-committees dealing with specific subjects must also hold regular open sessions. 

Anyone living within the parish can attend the meetings which are usually advertised on the parish council noticeboard and website. 

There are 26 parish councils that fall within the Peterborough City Council area and they raise money through council tax collected by local authorities, known as an annual precept. They can also apply for UK grants and funding from the European Union. 

Parish councils may also draw up Neighbourhood Plans and Neighbourhood Orders, which are statutory plans that may be prepared by a parish council or recognised neighbourhood forum for a local area. Neighbourhood Plans and Orders are optional and there is no statutory requirement for a plan or order to be prepared for any area. Further information on Neighbourhood Plans in Peterborough can be found online or more generally at GOV.UK.

The council wishes to work with the parish councils and continue to deliver services efficiently to meet the needs of the rural community and to recognise the local identities and heritage as outlined in the Parish Charter and Rural Vision.

Strategies-ParishCharter-2015441KBpdf
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Strategies- Rural Vision-2015389KBpdf
Size: 389KBFile format: pdf

Your parish councils

The 26 parish councils in Peterborough, you can find a full list of parish councils in the democracy section.

You can also find your parish using the online map.

Each parish council is responsible for appointing and employing their own clerk who is responsible for the day to day running of the parish council. They must ensure the correct documents are maintained, declaration of office and registration of interests are completed in a timely fashion, current legislation is applied and administer the parish council meetings. However, there are restrictions on who can be a clerk, you can find out more about being a parish council clerk on the Ask Your Council website.

Code of Conduct

Each parish council within Peterborough has adopted a Code of Conduct which can be viewed by contacting the parish clerk. 

The Code of Conduct sets out the expected behaviours required of the council's members. An example Code of Conduct can be found at the end of this page which can be adopted by parish councils if they wish to use it. 

Register of Interests

Parish councils are required to keep a register of their members disclosable pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests, a process administered by the clerk. The clerk must keep a paper copy which is available to the public upon request and publish a copy on the parish council web site if they have one. New declarations are required each time a parish councillor is elected or co-opted and when any changes occur. 

Declarations of interest for parish councillors can be viewed online by selecting a parish council followed by the councillor’s name. A copy is also retained for public inspection at the Town Hall.  

It is important that Declaration of Interests are kept up to date to comply with current legislation and failure to do so can result in legal action. 

If you have any concerns about whether or not an interest should be declared or has not been properly declared either on the register of interests or at a meeting, then appropriate advice should be sought.

This is particularly important as in some instances this can give rise to a criminal offence and undermine the decision that has been taken by the parish council. Advice should be sought from the clerk or Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Association of Local Councils (CAPALC). 

Becoming a parish councillor

The main role of a parish councillor is to represent the interests of all residents within the parish and understand the views and needs of different groups in the community. Parish councils are usually  the first call for people with local concerns or ideas and are a vital part of any community. 

If you would like to be involved in making local decisions affecting your area you can stand for election as a parish councillor.

Parish councillors can also be co-opted in line with Section 21 of the Representation of the People Act 1985 which allows the parish council to fill vacancies remaining unfilled following an ordinary election if the council believes that it is in the interests of the parish.

If you would like to be considered as a co-opted member, please contact the clerk or chair of the relevant parish council. 

To be eligible you must be 21 years old and meet one of the following criteria:

  • Be a local government elector for the parish, or 
  • Be an occupier (owner or tenant) of land or premises in the parish for the previous 12 months, or  
  • Have their place of work in the parish for the previous 12 months, or  
  • Have resided in the parish for the previous 12 months, or 
  • Have resided within three miles of the parish boundary for the previous 12 months. 

Attending Parish Council meetings

Parish Council meetings are public meetings and anyone is invited to attend. Details, including agendas and minutes can usually be found on the Parish Council noticeboard and/or website or the clerk can advise you. Occasionally it may be necessary to hold a meeting in private. When this occurs, the reason that decision has been taken will be published.  

Parish Council Liaison

Peterborough City Council’s Think Communities team currently serves as the liaison with Parish Councils.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Peterborough City Council arranged Parish Council Liaison meetings five or six times a year, although these are currently suspended. These were an opportunity for Parish Councillors and Clerks in the Peterborough area to meet and discuss issues of common interest and share ideas and training.

Details of meeting dates, agendas and minutes can be found online.

Subjects discussed could include Neighbourhood Schemes, Culture and Leisure matters and updates from the Annual Parish Conference.

The Annual Parish Conference is usually held locally in November and is open to Parish Councillors and Clerks. Arrangements for the 2020 conference are currently underway, with it likely to be a virtual event due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A wide range of topics are included with presentations by Cabinet Members and Senior Officers.

The date of the next meeting will be available in due course and, once available, the programme will be available to view here.

Conference details

Contact  parishcouncil@peterborough.gov.uk or by writing to:

Cohesion and Integration
Sand Martin House
Bittern Way
Fletton Quays
Peterborough
PE2 8TY

Parish Council Representatives on Scrutiny Committees

The Parish Council Liaison nominate Parish Councillors to sit on Peterborough City Council Scrutiny Committees. 

Scrutiny Committees were introduced under the Local Government Act 2000 and are part of the Council’s decision-making process. Their purpose is to hold the Cabinet and Cabinet Members to account by acting independently as a critical friend through constructive challenge. 

Members of the public, service users and partners are encouraged to become involved with this process and the Parish Council Liaison Committee will nominate one Parish Councillor from a rural area to be co-opted onto each committee. 

Details of our Scrutiny Committees can be found online.

Scrutiny committee members, agendas, minutes and meeting dates of the individual scrutiny committees can be found together with all committee details online

Complaints

Complaints about a Parish Council or Councillor are dealt with by the Monitoring Officer within the Local Authority whose contact details are below. 

The Monitoring Officer 
Peterborough City Council 
Town Hall 
Bridge Street
Peterborough
PE1 1HG 

Email: fiona.mcmillan@peterborough.gov.uk 

Telephone: 01733 747474

The first point of contact for any information regarding a parish council should be made to the relevant clerk or to the Parish Council Co-ordinator.  

However, the following documents provide useful information for members of the public together with forms and templates which the parish councillors and clerks may also find useful.  

Parish Council Declaration of Interests Guidance Notes256KBpdf
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Parish Councils Code of Conduct168KBpdf
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Parish Council Toolkit374KBpdf
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Parish Councils Meetings Checklist173KBpdf
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NALCCo-optionGuide97KBpdf
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Parish Councillor Declaration of Office75KBpdf
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Parish Council Dispensation Procedure95KBpdf
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ParishCouncilMembersInterestForm18395KBpdf
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Parish Conference Programme 2019218KBpdf
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Parish Councils Community Governance Reviews7KBpdf
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Parish Council Gift and Hospitality Form104KBpdf
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Declaration-ParishCouncils-Chairman46KBpdf
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DeclarationOfAcceptanceOfOffice75KBpdf
Size: 75KBFile format: pdf