Taking Part in Council Meetings

The Council encourages members of the Public to attend meetings. If you wish to speak at a meeting, the Council will suspend its work for a time to allow you to speak. This is normally early in the Agenda. Once this item has passed, the Council will not normally allow members of the Public to address the Council. If you wish to speak to the Council, or ask questions of the Council, then please speak to the Clerk, who will let you know how to go about this.

Register of Members Interests

Parish and Town Councillors are required by law to register, and keep up to date, certain disclosable pecuniary interests in the Parish or Town Council’s Register of Members’ Interests. This is available for public inspection by Calderdale Council at the Town Hall, Halifax during normal office hours. In addition, the registered information has to be published on Calderdale Council’s website and on the Parish or Town Council’s website. (http://www.calderdale.gov.uk/council/democracy/parish/search/index.jsp )

Legal Foundations

Ripponden Parish Council was a ‘successor council’ to Ripponden Urban District Council, and was established by an Act of Parliament in 1973. The Council’s Powers are derived from this Act. Further Acts have sought to establish the responsibilities and powers of Parish Councils, and a full list is available from DEFRA. While the term ‘Parish Council’ has been used since the 11th Century, there has been no link between the Church and Parish Councils since 1894. Parish Councils are established as the lowest level of Local Government. A list of Parish Council powers and responsibilities is shown at DEFRAs website [www.defra.gov.uk/rural/pdfs/communities/PPow-dutylist.pdf ]

Why become a Parish Councillor?

By becoming a Parish Councillor you become someone your community will look to for help, guidance and support – a community leader with the power to influence decisions for the benefit of the people you

What decisions do Parish Councils make?

Parish Councils make all kinds of decisions on issues that affect the local community.  Probably the most common topics that parish councils get involved with are planning matters (they are statutory consultees), crime prevention, managing open spaces 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 (such as the borough council, health authorities, police etc).

In this respect parish councils are extremely powerful.  The organisations that make the final decisions know that a Parish Council gives the best reflection of how a community feels about something, and its views will be taken seriously.

How much time does it take up?

The Parish Council meets every alternate Thursday for the council meeting, to which members of the public are also invited.  Meetings may last approximately two hours, depending on the Agenda set for the meeting to discuss.  The Parish Council also has committees to deal with specific subjects, such as environmental issues and Communications.

In addition to the regular meetings, Councillors are required to attend other meeting representing the council, for example acting as a representative on an outside body, community activities or helping develop a new project for the community.

How long does a Parish Councillor serve for?

Ripponden Parish Council is made up of 12 elected Councillors or ‘members’ who decide its aims, objectives and policies. They are elected to represent one of the four wards in the Parish. Each ward has three Councillors who serve for a four year period. To become a Parish Councillor you will have to stand as a candidate at the Parish/Town elections. These are usually held in May every 4 years.

Eligibility

To stand for election on a parish council, you must:

  • be a UK or commonwealth citizen, or;
  • be a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, or;
  • be a citizen of another Member state of the European Union;
  • be a least 18 years old.

To be eligible to stand for an election for a particular parish, you must:

  • be an elector of the parish, or;
  • for the whole of the previous 12 months have occupied (as owner or tenant) land or other premises in the parish, or;
  • during the previous 12 months have worked in the parish (as your principal or only place of work), or;
  • for the whole of the previous 12 months lived in the parish or within three miles of the parish boundary.

You don’t have to be connected to a political party.

If you do become a Parish Councillor you will have to sign up to the Code of Conduct.

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 your Councillors and find out what they think of the job.

Parish Grant Scheme

Ripponden Parish Council has a limited budget for the award of grants to local groups and organisations. The Council can only award grants using certain legal powers; specific powers allow the Council to provide funding for specific activities or projects which Members feel will be of benefit to the Ripponden Parish. Where no specific power is available, the Council may decide to use its power under Section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972, to award a grant, where it feels that to do so will benefit some or all of its residents or some or all of the area.

Grant applications are considered at Full Council meetings and, therefore, applications and any supporting documentation must be received at least 10 days before a meeting to allow the Clerk to check that the Council’s grants criteria has been met. Please read the Parish Grant Scheme – Terms of Reference in Parish Council Documents before applying for a grant.

Town and Parish Councils

Both Town and Parish Councils have the same status. The only difference is between the person who chairs a meeting: a Parish Council meeting is chaired by the Chairman of the Council; a Town Council meeting is chaired by the Town Mayor.

Principal Authorities

Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council has responsibility for most of the services delivered in Ripponden such as: education, roads, social care etc. For example, the Parish Council is consulted on planning matters, but Calderdale (as the Planning authority) has final responsibility for deciding on proposals and controlling development.