Did you know that Balderstone has a Parish Council?
Well, it does and whilst it had not been very active in the past, the Parish Council hopes to achieve benefits for the community as Covid regulations ease.
Do you know what it does, what it can do but what it cannot do?
Usually the Parish Council will meet at least 4 times a year (maybe more) to consider any planning applications in the Parish, to approve any spending on community amenities, to consider any support for local organisations (provided the Parish Council has legal powers to give support), to liaise with Borough & County Councils (for example to improve roads and raise awareness of speeding issues.) Balderstone Parish Council also seeks to work with neighbouring Parish Councils to improve communications, and to share best practice.
However the Parish Council has limited powers, meaning that it cannot always do as residents might wish, but it can & does act as a consultee whilst lobbying on behalf of residents for local issues of concern.
The Parish Council must act as a corporate body, which means that no Councillor (including the Chairman) may act alone. Since none may act alone, and approval is needed by a majority for any actions by Parish Council, social media is not considered to be the appropriate means of communication, due to its personal type of instantaneous response.
Balderstone Parish Council raises funds through Council Tax & the Parish Precept, but what does it spend the money on?
Each December the Parish Council considers what it needs to spend in the next year, as part of a budget. This is a public document, once approved & can be seen on Parish Council’s website. There will be an increase from April in order to pay for the community improvements which have been discussed at Parish Council meetings; in particular to tidy up / replace local benches and install planters.
Better communication with residents is considered a priority and Parish Councillors are looking into creating a regular newsletter to help with this. There is a notice board at Mellor Brook end of Balderstone, but better communication is required across the Parish. The Parish Council needs to pay a Parish Clerk and to hire a venue for meetings, but also to pay for insurance in addition to subscribing to Lancashire Association of Local Councils, who are the parent body, giving advice and providing training.
Do you have any say in this, as a Council Tax Payer?
Anyone may contact the Parish Council, via the website www.balderstone.org, you can speak to any Parish Councillor (details on the website, but remember no Councillor may act alone), or contact the Acting Clerk by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 01200 422607
Any person on the Electoral Roll has a right to vote, which is how you decide who will represent you on the Parish Council. In addition, any eligible person may stand for election to the Parish Council and these are held every four years. Vacancies may occur in between, and there is a formal process for filling such vacancies, often by co-option of candidates.
Where and when does the Parish Council meet?
Balderstone Parish Council usually meets on Wednesday evenings in May, July, September and December from 8.00pm, in Mellor Brook Community Centre. Due to Covid restrictions, the Parish Council resolved to not meet physically. It is complex to ensure legal requirements are met for virtual meetings by Parish Council, and therefore it was resolved to act by bringing in Emergency Powers, delegated to the Acting Clerk who consults with at least Chairman & Vice Chairman before carrying out any action. The Emergency Powers are in the Documents section of the website. When the Parish Council is meeting, any member of the public may attend and there is a time set aside to give them an opportunity to speak.
Who is on Balderstone Parish Council?
Details of the members of Balderstone Parish Council are on the website www.balderstone.org Chairman is John Evans, Vice Chairman is Stuart Shorthouse, Acting Clerk is Teresa Taylor and email is email@example.com
What has the Parish Council done for me?
The Parish Council has been in place for some time, and represents the Parish. However the Council cannot know what residents actually want, unless you tell us! Some of the things Parish Council has managed to lobby for (which have been successful) include speed management & weight limit on Branch Road and refusal of planning for a large fuel station with additional retail at the former Windmill Hotel (even though that is in Samlesbury & Cuerdale Parish, so South Ribble Borough)
So, what is Balderstone Parish Council doing now, and what will it do for the next year?
Covid has impacted on so many lives & actions over this last year and unfortunately it is still doing so. It has proved very difficult to carry out the improvements which have been wished, in part due to Council officers working in different departments but also working from home. Decisions on ownership, responsibility for and permission to carry out work to benches etc. has been delayed, but contact is improving. Two particular areas have been highlighted; the bench on Higher Commons Lane and the wider area at Spade Bridge / Whalley Road triangle; Parish Council is at last making some progress on this, by working in tandem with Borough & County Council to clarify what work can be done & who will ensure this is carried out.
Improvements like this do have a cost e.g. Parish Council must have approval from Lancashire County Council Highways to install the bench; a new bench needs to be of material which will last for many years, but also it must be installed properly, following Health & Safety & if the Parish Council is responsible, insurance cover must be in place.
Parish Council fully acknowledges the issues caused by irresponsible dog owners who allow their pets to defaecate and, even if they pick up the poo, they prefer to decorate the area with bags, rather than take it home. Currently there is no funding from Ribble Valley Borough Council, either to provide additional bins, or (should Parish Council purchase & install them) to empty more bins. There is also an issue in parts of the Parish with antisocial behaviour & continued contact with Police is the way the Parish Council is working to solve this.
How can I find out more?
The Parish Council wants to improve communications with residents. Meetings (when they are possible) will be publicised on the website and on the notice board. Why not come along? It is fortunate that the Parish Council website was created by Cllr. Greenwood & he makes a minimal charge for the work he continues to do. Fortunately grant funding support has meant there has been no cost to residents and the Parish Council is thankful for his efforts.
Remember, communication is a two way street and therefore if you wish to be involved in your community and to know what is going on, you need to communicate with your Parish Council!
Interim Acting Clerk to Balderstone Parish Council: Mrs Teresa Taylor email: firstname.lastname@example.org