The broad responsibilities of parish councils are set out on the government website:
This list shows those which are of particular interest to West Dean village:
The role of the Parish Council with respect to planning applications is focussed around advising and listening to applicants, residents within the parish and other interested parties, before making a recommendation to the relevant planning authority ( either Wiltshire or TVBC) This recommendation will be taken into account by TVBC but it is within their remit to accept or reject the Parish Council view. Wiltshire Council is the planning authority for the Wiltshire part of the area and sends copies of all planning applications to the Parish Clerk. She applies to TVBC for their information.
Advice to Applicants: In the case of a planning application which either lies within the conservation area, involves replacing one house with another, is a major extension to an existing property, involves change of use to land/buildings or falls into the category of ‘new build’, the Parish Council advises that applicants should consider taking the steps set out below:
i) Consult informally with the relevant planners on their proposals before initiating any formal application and/or drawing up plans (Check Wiltshire or TVBC websites for availability of planning duty officers).
ii) informally with individual Parish Councillors and, if necessary, arrange site visits to help build understanding around the proposal. You may also choose to do this by attending the open forum session which is part of every Parish Council meeting.
iii) Consult informally with your immediate neighbours and any other interested parties so that there are ‘no surprises’ when the formal application is made.
Take up the option of the pre-planning consultation process with Wiltshire or TVBC Planning office (there is a fee for this).
iv) Attend the Parish Council meeting when your formal planning application is on the agenda (the Parish Clerk can advise when this is likely to happen)
The Parish Council discusses all planning applications at their regular meetings and a record of the decision is minuted and forwarded to the relevant planning authority. As stated above, the Parish Council has no jurisdiction with respect to planning – our remit is merely to make a recommendation of support or not.
Highways: lighting, parking places, right to enter into discussions about new roads and road widening, the consent of parish council is required for diversion or discontinuation of highway, traffic signs and other notices, tree planting and verge maintenance
Rights of Way: footpath and bridleway maintenance
The Recreation Ground: is owned by the parish council who look after the trees and hedges and arrange of the insurance and maintenance of the sports and play equipment. The pavilion, the play equipment and the goalposts were provided by fundraising through the village fete, as well as grants from Viridor Environmental credits and Wiltshire Council.
The Village War Memorial which is at St Mary’s Church
Seats (public) for example those on the village green by the River Dun
In addition, the Parish Council can spend a limited amount of money on anything they deem of benefit to the community which is not covered by the other
specific responsibilities described in this list.
As the Wiltshire/Hampshire County boundary cuts through the village our parish council is in frequent contact with both Wiltshire Council and Test Valley Borough Council and seeks to work closely with West Tytherley Parish Council.
The Clerk. The Parish Clerk is contracted to work five hours per week.
Meetings. Parish Council meetings are normally held every two months in the Village Hall beginning at 7pm with 10 minutes for residents and other members of the public to raise issues of concern and ask for information about Parish business .
The Parish Precept. The Parish Council needs funds to support its activities and these are raised by adding an extra cost known as a "precept" to each householder's Council Tax bill. The procedure is: during September and October, the Clerk calculates the half yearly spend and makes a prediction for the remaining half year and an estimate for the following year. At the November meeting, Councillors begin preliminary discussions on the following year’s precept. They will need to consider running costs such as:
insurance, staff wages, maintenance and subscriptions to bodies such as Wiltshire Association of Local Councils and any future projects the Council wishes to undertake.
At the January meeting, Councillors confirm the following year’s budget and any increase in precept necessary to cover the following year’s expenditure.
The Clerk then informs Wiltshire Council of the Parish precept by February.