Silverdale Parish Council

The parish council is a local authority that makes decisions on behalf of the people in Silverdale and has an overall responsibility for the well-being of its local community.  It is the level of government closest to the community, with Lancaster City Council above it in the hierarchy, followed by Lancashire County Council. As it is the authority closest to the people, the parish council is invariably the first place people will go with concerns or ideas.  For this reason it is a vital part of any community. Residents can bring to the attention of the parish council anything that concerns them, either directly or though the clerk.  If matters raised are not the responsibility of the council, the clerk can bring them to the attention of the proper authority.

Silverdale Parish Council is comprosed of eight councillors, either elected by residents through an official Local Authority election process (usually every four years) or co-opted by the existing parish councillors to fill a vacancy within the council. Usually, co-opted parish councillors are chosen for their experience, or particular area of expertise. Every year, it holds an Annual Parish Assembly (usually in The Gaskell Hall) to which all parishioners are invited.

Its work falls into three main categories:

  • representing the local community
  • delivering services to meet local needs
  • striving to improve quality of life in the parish.

What decisions do parish councils make?

The parish council makes all sorts of decisions on issues that affect the local community.  Probably the most common topics in which it gets involved are planning matters (it is a statutory consultee), crime prevention, helping local groups, managing open spaces, and campaigning for and delivering better services and facilities for the village.

It’s true to say that on its own, the parish council has limited powers to make decisions.  But it does have the ability to negotiate with, and the power to influence, other organisations that do make the final decisions (such as the Lancaster City and Lancashire County councils, the health authority, and Lancashire Police etc).

In this respect the parish council is extremely powerful.  The organisations that make the final decisions know that the parish council can offer the best reflection of how the Silverdale community feels about something, and its views are taken seriously.

What powers does the parish council have?

Silverdale Parish Council havs a wide range of powers which are essentially related to local matters, such as looking after community buildings, open space, allotments, play areas, street lighting, bus shelters, car parks and much more.  The council also has the power to raise money through taxation, the precept.  The precept is the parish council’s share of the council tax.  The precept demand goes to the billing authority, Lancaster City Council, which collects the tax for the parish council. Silverdale Parish Council always aims to keep its precept to a minimum for the benefit of residents.

Why become a parish councillor?

If you’ve never been to a parish council meeting before, you may be forgiven for thinking that parish councillors are a group of (probably older) people who meet now and then in Silverdale’s Village Institute.  However, when people within our community need support and guidance, it is sometimes the parish council that they turn to.

By becoming a parish councillor you become someone within your community to whom others will look to for help, guidance and support; a community leader with the power to influence decisions for the benefit of the people you serve.

Seeing your community change for the better, as a result of decisions you have helped make, is something that can give you a sense of achievement and pride.

How much time does it take up?

Silverdale Parish Council usually meets once a month for the council meeting, to which members of the public are also invited.  Meetings may last two or three hours, depending on the agenda set for the meeting.  It also has Working Groups to deal with specific subjects, such as Zero Net Carbon, Transport etc.. These groups provide feedback to the rest of the parish councillors and clerks to ensure all are aware of progress, external discussions , or any envisaged problems.  In addition, councillors may be required to attend other meetings to represent the parish council, for example acting as a representative on an outside body (such as The Mansergh Trust or The Gaskell Hall), in community activities, or helping develop a new project for the community.

How long does a parish councillor serve for?

Once elected, parish councillors sit on the council for a maximum of four years.  If they then want to stay in the post they can stand for re-election.

Applicants should note that councillors are expected to attend regular meetings and any additional meetings as may be arranged, and to represent the electors of Silverdale in raising and discussing those issues of interest and concern on which the Parish Council is empowered to act.

Am I eligible to be a parish councillor?

You have to be:

  • a British subject, or a citizen of the Commonwealth or the European Union
  • over 18 years of age

and additionally you have to be one of the following

  • a local government elector for the council area of Silverdale
  • have during the whole of the 12 months occupied as owner or tenant any land or other premises within Silverdale, or within three miles of it for the whole period
  • have during that same period had your principal or only place of work in the council area of Silverdale, or within three miles of it for the whole period.

You cannot stand for election if you

  • are subject of a bankruptcy restriction order or interim order
  • have, within five years before the day of the election, been convicted in the United Kingdom of any offence and have had a sentence of imprisonment (whether suspended or not) for a period of over three months without the option of a fine
  • you work for Silverdale Parish Council (but you can work for other local authorities, including the principal authorities that represent the same area).

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 our councillors and find out what they think of the job.