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Bodenham Parish Council - Welcome

Parish Council Responsibilities

Like all such councils, Bodenham Parish Council is a statutory body, forming the first, or lowest, tier of local government in its area.

Although Parish Councils have few legal duties, they can take responsibility for the delivery of a wide range of services at a community level and a full list can be found here.

However, each Parish Council’s responsibilities are different and those of Bodenham Parish Council centre on such matters as:

Entertainment and the Arts The support and encouragement of arts and crafts
Community Centres
 
The provision of buildings for the use of clubs having athletic, social or educational objectives. The main such facility in Bodenham is the Parish Hall and responsibility for this is delegated to the Parish Hall Committee click here
Drainage
 
The cleaning and drainage of ponds and watercourses. Since 2008 most of this work has been carried out by a Sub-Committee of the Parish Council, the Bodenham Flood Protection Group (BFPG) click here
Highways
 
The control of litter, including the provision of litter bins
Provision of bus shelters.
The maintenance of public footpaths and bridleways
Recreation
 
The acquisition of land for, or the provision of, recreation grounds, public walks and open spaces and the management and control of these. The main example in Bodenham is the children's play area.
Traffic and Transport
 
Contributing to traffic calming measures and community transport schemes
War Memorials
 
The maintenance of the war memorial in Bodenham Village
Tourism The encouragement of tourism. This website itself contributes to this, as does the Bodenham Newsletter click here

Parish Councils are also notified by the County Council of various matters affecting the Parish, such as proposals to carry out sewerage works or to conduct footpath surveys. In reality, the most important and frequent notifications are those relating to planning applications in the Parish and there are very few meetings of Bodenham Parish Council at which there are not one or more of such applications to be considered. The Parish Council makes recommendations on these applications and, whilst the planning authority (Herefordshire Council) does not have to agree, it must consider the parish view.

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Parish Council Funding

Although it can apply for other funding such as grant awards, the Council's work is mainly funded by taxation (the annual precept). This is set by the Parish Council in December or January each year on the basis of its estimate of the total expenses (including the Parish Clerk’s salary) it will have to meet in the year starting in the following April. The amount decided is then included within the overall Council Tax levied by Herefordshire Council and is paid to the Parish in two six-monthly instalments during the financial year.

Membership

There are 10 seats on Bodenham Parish Council and, based on the 2011 Register of Electors, there are 855 electors, that is just over 85 per seat.

Councillors are volunteers and get no financial reward. The current members of the Parish Council are listed here.

Members of the Parish Council are each elected for a term of four years. Elections for all the parishes in Herefordshire are held every four years on the first Thursday in May and the next Local Government Elections for both Parish and District will take place on 5th May 2015.

A Councillor who is elected to serve on the Parish Council will begin his or her term of office on the fourth day after the day of Election. For one day, Parish Councils have 'new' and 'old' Councillors serving together.

A Councillor elected at a Casual Vacancy serves for the unexpired period of his or her term of office, which begins immediately after the Election.

When a vacancy occurs on the Parish Council the Parish Clerk is required to notify the ‘Proper Officer’ in Herefordshire Council. The vacancy must then be advertised in the Parish for a period of 14 working days (excluding Bank Holidays) and during this time an election can be requested by 10 electors from the Parish signing a ‘Request for An Election’ form. (This can be downloaded from the Herefordshire Council website).

Once the 14 days have passed and Herefordshire Council has received no request for an election by the last date, the Parish Council will be informed that they can fill the vacancy by co-opting a member to it.

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Governance

Members of the Parish Council are governed in the way that they discharge their responsibilities by a formal Code of Conduct which you can see here.

They are also subject to the Council’s Standing Orders, which cover such matters as when and where the Council’s meetings are to be held, how the meetings are to be organised and conducted, how the Council’s finances are to be administered, the duties of the Parish Clerk, and so on. You can see a copy of the Standing Orders here.

Freedom of Information

Bodenham Parish Council strives to be as open as possible with its information and the work it does. You can find details of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and ways in which the Council complies with it, including its Model Publication Scheme here.

Contacting the Parish Council

If you wish to raise any issue with the Parish Council, you should contact the Parish Clerk, Dr Christopher Smith, by telephone on 01568-797132 or e-mail at bodenhampcclerk@gmail.com in the first instance.

Alternatively, you can, if you prefer, raise the matter with any of the members of the Parish Council listed here.

Joining the Parish Council

If you are interested in becoming a Parish Councillor and you meet the criteria listed below, please contact the Parish Clerk (details in the previous section) to inform him of your interest should a vacancy become available.

A candidate for the Parish Council is qualified if, when nominated:

a. He or she is a British citizen, Commonwealth citizen, citizen of the Irish Republic or a citizen of another European Union State.
b. Is 18 years of age, and
c. Is either in the list of electors for the Parish or has during the whole of the preceding twelve months:

(1) Occupied land as owner or tenant in it, or
(2) Had a principal place of work there, or
(3) Resided in or within three miles of it.

Parish Council Meetings

Bodenham Parish Council usually meets at 7.30pm on the first Monday of each month in the Siward James Centre, except where this falls on a public holiday when it normally meets on the following Monday. The dates of Meetings are at click here

The Meetings, which normally last about 2 hours are open to the public and all residents are most welcome to attend them. In addition, they have the opportunity during the course of each Meeting to raise any issues of local concern they may wish.

Copies of the Minutes of all Parish Council Meetings held since January 2010 are available here.

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Planning Applications

As already mentioned in the paragraph above about the Parish Council’s responsibilities, the Council considers all planning applications relating to properties in the Parish and makes recommendations on them to Herefordshire Council. It should be noted, however, that the Parish Council is not a decision-making body. Councillors can advise and make comments, based on their personal knowledge and on local representations, but it is the Planning Officers and members of the Herefordshire Council Planning Committee who ultimately approve or refuse applications.

It is most important that, if you are affected by a planning application, you register your support for it, or your opposition to it, direct with Herefordshire Council and that you do so promptly, since normally only 21 days are allowed for the submission of responses. It is also helpful if you inform the Parish Council of your views. The Parish Council can then take these into account in formulating its own recommendations. While Councillors can claim to have a good overall knowledge of the Parish, they cannot be aware of all the issues which a particular planning application might raise and local knowledge of these is always invaluable to them - they need to be fully briefed if they are to act effectively on your behalf.

If you wish to inform the Parish Council of your views on a planning application, please contact the Chairman of the Parish Council at the earliest opportunity to ensure that your comments are taken into account at the Parish Council’s next meeting. The easiest way of doing this is to send them to him by e-mail. You can find his email address here. Alternatively, you are very welcome to attend the relevant meeting of the Parish Council and express your views to Councillors in person. The list of planning applications to be considered at a meeting is normally included on the agenda posted here on this Website and on local notice boards three days prior to that Parish Council Meeting.

Current Parish Council Initiatives

Parish Website

This Website has been sponsored by the Parish Council since the Website’s inception in January 2010. If you are interested in contributing to its expansion and improvement in any way, for example by providing photographs (preferably in digital form) and/or information of local interest, we should be delighted to hear from you. Please contact Tony Mitcheson by telephone on 01568-797170 or by e-mail at

Parish Plan

The Parish Council has sponsored the development of a community-led Action Plan for Bodenham. This was published on 1 October and can be found here. Work is now in hand to implement the actions identified in the Plan and if you would like to contribute to this in any way, we should be delighted to hear from you. Please contact the Parish Clerk, Dr Christopher Smith, by telephone on 01568-797132 or e-mail at bodenhampcclerk@gmail.com in the first instance.

Neighbourhood Plan

The Localism Act has changed the planning system to give local people a greater say in how their communities are developed. Neighbourhood Development Plans will now give residents the opportunity to decide the planning policies for the use and development of the land in their town or parish, include choosing where new homes, shops, leisure facilities or businesses should be built, how many there should be, and what the buildings should look like.

Plans need to conform with planning policies and guidance at local, national and European levels and comply with the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations. They also need to demonstrate that the local community has been fully involved throughout their development and they are subject to agreement in a community referendum on completion.

Once a Neighbourhood Plan has been made and adopted, it becomes a statutory plan carrying equal weight with the Local Plan (Core Strategy), is part of the Local Development Framework and will be used by Herefordshire Council in making decisions on planning applications in the Neighbourhood Area. Further information can be found here.

The Parish Council has arranged for Bodenham Parish to be designated as a Neighbourhood Area and on 8 April 2013 established the nucleus of a Steering Group to develop a Neighbourhood Plan for the Parish.

This is a very important initiative because of the way it will influence the development of the Parish through the future planning process. As the preparation of the Plan progresses, you will be able to find a copy of the latest draft attached to the most recent ‘Neighbourhood Plan – Update’ under ‘Latest Notices’ on the Home Page of this website. If you have any comments on the draft, please send them to the Parish Clerk, Dr Chris Smith, by e-mail at bodenhampcclerk@gmail.com. Similarly, if you would like to contribute by becoming a member of the Steering Group, or by assisting in any other way, you will be most welcome. In the first instance please contact the Parish Clerk at his e-mail address above.

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