I am writing to inform you that three of our five Steventon Parish Councillors have resigned. John Hamilton-Smith has been a Councillor for 25 years, in later years as Chairman. Jeff Dodgson has been a Councillor for 20 years, in later years as Treasurer. Anita Bown has been a Councillor for 16 years and in later years has recorded the minutes for the Parish Council Meetings.
This is a total of 61 years service to the village! Their wealth of knowledge and hard work is greatly appreciated and will be sorely missed.
After the forthcoming Steventon Annual Parish Meeting on the 25th April 2016 the two remaining Councillors will be Mike Everton-Browne and myself, Rosina Forde.
Consequently there are three vacancies on the Steventon Parish Council. I will first describe what is involved in being a Steventon Parish Councillor and then I will explain the official process for filling the vacancies.
As Steventon is such a small, quiet village the work of the Steventon Parish Council (SPC) is not onerous. The SPC aims to meet every two months during the evening for one and a half hours. Meeting topics revolve around planning applications, “highways and rights of way” issues such as footpaths, potholes, road signage, trees and hedges, and general village appearance. It is responsible for the bus stop and public seats. The SPC has also been consulted on external issues that can affect Steventon such as the Electoral Review for North Hampshire and Consultations on the Local Plan.
During the last nine months the SPC has met seven times. There were seven planning applications to review, and new laws to discuss that have come into affect about how parish councils should operate. In the future, under the new laws, Steventon Parish Council will operate in a more open and transparent way by publishing meeting agendas and minutes and other important information on the Steventon Village website. The website has been created by and is managed by Tim Sennitt.
A Parish Council is an essential part of the structure of local democracy and has a vital role in acting on behalf of the community it represents. It gives views on behalf of the community on issues that affect the parish. It can undertake projects and schemes that benefit local residents. It alerts relevant authorities to problems that arise or work that needs to be undertaken, and it helps the other tiers of local government to keep in touch with their local communities.
After the 25th April Mike Everton-Browne and I together will not constitute a lawful quorum to conduct parish council business; this requires a minimum of three parish councillors. However, to manage the workload we do need five parish councillors.
The official process for filling the vacancies is as follows:-
The three vacancies must first be advertised on the Parish Notice Board using a form provided by Basingstoke District Borough Council (BDBC). See the three vacancy forms at the end of this letter.
The form requests that electors notify the BDBC within 14 working days if they wish to have an election to fill the vacancies. If the BDBC do not receive such a request from 10 electors within the timeframe then the vacancies may instead be filled by Parish Council co-option. The BDBC will inform me if this is the case.
Parish Council co-option means that we can ourselves advertise and approach individuals to offer themselves for co-option. There is a simple process to be followed that I can describe when needed.
If the route of an election is chosen and there are too few candidates to fill the vacancies, we are then not allowed to fill the remaining vacancies by co-option!
For this reason and because it would be a simpler process I personally prefer the co-option route, but feel free to write to the BDBC requesting an election if you prefer that.
So please, if you do not want to lose your Parish Council then do consider how we can move forward. Would you prefer an election or co-option? Would you like to put yourself forward as a Parish Councillor? Can you persuade a neighbour to put himself or herself forward? If we work hard together we might have three new Parish Councillors ready to take up their positions by the time of the Steventon Annual Parish meeting on the 25th April!
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you are interested in becoming a Parish Councillor, or if you have any questions or other comments.
Steventon Parish Council
Tel: 01256 397251