Stoke Poges Parish Council is made up of 13 councillors elected every four years. The council has traditionally been non-party political. The post is unpaid and councillors give their time on a voluntary basis. There are monthly meetings, which are open to the public, with time allowed for public questions and comment. A variety of parish issues are discussed but there is also much that is done outside the meetings.
The responsibilities of the parish council include planning issues (although it can only comment and raise objections as it has no power to take decisions on planning matters); maintaining open spaces within the village; public footpaths; litter; bus shelters and benches.
The council also works closely with the District and County councils with regard to traffic management, road safety and highway maintenance and the police with regard to neighbourhood policing.
Remember you can call the parish clerk or any of the parish councillors to discuss problems or comment on village issues or contact us via this website.
Stoke Poges’ Priorities
In practice, each Parish Council has considerable scope and freedom to meet the needs of its own community. The current Stoke Poges Parish Council has prioritised strengthening our community by improving communication (Stoke Poges News and this website) and events like the Diamond Jubilee Celebration and the annual ‘Carols on the Green’. We are committed to supporting those who need most help – children, youth, the vulnerable and less mobile.
We have invested in upgraded play facilities in our two recreation grounds and have implemented a Good Neighbour scheme, that will match volunteer helpers and activities to people in our community who need some extra support and assistance. Our goal is to upgrade the amenities at Bells Hill rec. by building a new community pavilion.
Parish Councillors are proactive in District and County led initiatives to ensure that Stoke Poges receives its fair share of investment and opportunity.
History of Parish Councils
Parish Councils are relatively recent. Until 1894 the affairs of the parish were administered by vestry meetings held monthly in the church after Sunday morning service. Originally they were responsible for the appointment of the village constable, the repair of the roads, the welfare of the poor, and the church.
After several legislative changes the Local Government Act of 1894 introduced parish councils which have remained largely the same since that time. The aim was to give everyone who paid domestic rates a voice in the election of parish councillors and benefit from the decisions taken.
Whilst the Parish Council looked after the civil side of the parish affairs the ecclesiastical matters were handled by the parochial church council.
Parish councils are statutory bodies. Members are elected for a term of four years (but there may sometimes be one or two who are co-opted to fill casual vacancies) and councils are funded principally by an annual precept.
A Parish Council is a body corporate, which means that all decisions are made jointly by the full Council. The chairman has no more authority than any other councillor (he/she is elected by the members at the first meeting each year) except having an additional vote to be used when voting is tied.
Income and expenditure for the each financial year are calculated in the form of estimates. The net amount (the precept) is added to council tax, collected by the district council (principal authority) and paid to parishes in two six-monthly instalments. Every Council Tax address makes a payment towards the precept according to its Council Tax band.
Parish and town councils can apply for other funding such as grant and funding awards, but they do not receive funds direct from central government, as principal authorities (i.e. District and County) do.
The Parish Council, also, has a role in consultation with South Bucks District Council and Buckinghamshire County Council in certain areas and the opportunity to influence those bodies for the benefit of the parish.
All councillors are obliged to follow the Council Code of Conduct and the Parish Council follows a set of rules, known as Standing Orders, laid down ultimately by central Government.
The Parish Council has a responsibility to consider the interests and needs of local residents, and to ensure that we are going forward in line with the views of the local community to the benefit of the Parish.
To achieve all of this we need your interest and involvement.
Members of the public are free to attend all meetings of the Parish Council, except for items of business where it would be against the public interest to discuss in public, in which case the Council must pass a resolution stating why the public are to be excluded. All meeting agendas are posted on the parish notice boards at least three clear days before the meeting, not including the day of issue and the day of the meeting.
It is customary for the public to have the opportunity to raise issues or ask questions in a short session at the beginning of each meeting. Once the public session is concluded, the public may observe and speak only at the chairman’s discretion.
Parish Council procedures
Parish Councils must:
- Appoint a Chairman responsible for the smooth running of meetings and for ensuring that all council decisions are lawful.
- Appoint a Clerk as the Parish Council’s advisor and administrator.
- Appoint a Responsible Financial Officer to manage the finances in a sound and professional manner. The RFO is often the Clerk.
- Appoint an independent and competent Internal Auditor.
- Comply with Employment Law, including equal opportunities and disability legislation, and the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts.
- Hold a minimum of four meetings a year, one of which must be the Annual Meeting. In practice Stoke Poges Parish Council meets monthly, except August.
- Parish Council elections are held every four years. Parish Councils have the power to co-opt members if there are insufficient candidates to fill all places.