How can I make my parish council more progressive

0 votes
As a new Parish councillor, I am still learning the protocols of how councils are run. We have meetings every two months and it is increasingly becoming frustrating when any suggestions that I have, are met with - we have tried that before, it doesn't work, why do we need that here, it's fine as it is, let's bring it up in the next meeting and then doesn't get added to the agenda. The only thing we do seem to discuss and debate are planning applications, which in the majority are met with opposition. I appreciate that in my small village everything is 'fine' and that we should continue to protect this as a small rural community.  However we have new families moving in and I would like to reach out to new and old residents for their opinions on how we can improve the village. I also believe it is essential to being a 'good councillor' - but I feel that I will be knocked back and the lack of support intimidates new councillors like myself to just keep the status quo. Any advice?
asked by (120 points)

4 Answers

+1 vote
Poor answers:

Get similar people elected (Flat Pack Politics is a good book on the subject).

Better answers:

Requests for agenda items should be made to the chair and the clerk, best to do It via email, so you a record. When it isn't on the agenda, at question time ask why not, cause a polite fuss.

Get local residents who also want the new thing / event / activity to turn up to the meeting and express their support for the idea at the public forum element of the council meeting of you have one.

Be, politely, dogged, as if you can be charged with with coming up with a plan (admittedly they can then blame you when it doesn't work, but it does keep your proposal moving forward).
answered by (4.2k points)
0 votes
There's a fine line between "protect this as a small rural community" and "preserve this in aspic".  I face this dilemma in my village.  Had more progressive, pragmatic, decisions been made thirty years ago, we might still have the school, the two pubs, the shop and the post office we have since lost.  I wasn't here at the time, but I gather that life was pretty good in the 70s and 80s, however, the assumption that doing nothing changes nothing is sadly misguided, as there are other outside world forces that play their part.  We are now just a dormitory settlement with no amenities.

The advice from somebodyelse is good, but there are no easy answers here.  I would just stress the "polite fuss" element.  Conduct your campaign in a calm and civilised manner.  Meet with the Chair and Clerk and sell your ideas to them.  Ask them for their support.
answered by (6.8k points)
Polite fuss yes, but the Clerk is there to provide admin, information, guidance  and act on but not make decisions for cllrs.  The Chair have any lawful elevated decision making powers over and above any other cllr apart from being empowered to unilaterally call an EGM or EM.  He/she certainly doesn't have the power to direct other cllrs to support their chosen causes.  That said a number of them act as if they have.
0 votes
Do you hold a Councillor ‘surgery’? That could be a way to gather ideas and support. Social media polls are useful too. If your Council have adopted Standing Orders based on the Nalc Model, then item 9 in particular .g and .h explains how to submit and how to manage items for Agendas.
answered by (470 points)
0 votes
Dear Cowshed
Whilst not a Councillor I do oh so know what you mean. I have desperately tried to get my Council to consider various ideas/criticisms/initiatives but have by and large met with the "Councillors are always right " syndrome. The facts are that the way PCs are set up means that the community has little sway and the Council is only as progressive as its Councillors.  I fully understand how the old guard can be difficult to shift so you must play the long game and be prepared to pick your battles. All of this will no doubt come under the "you have to win your battles before you win the war" syndrome. I guess each Council is different but ultimately they are there to decide on things. I am not sure what rights you have as a Councillor but my attitude is that those who actively seek change and continuous improvement will win through in the end. Good luck my friend
answered by (630 points)

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