Throughout England parish, town, community and
neighbourhood councils (local councils) work towards improving community well‑being and providing better services at
a local level. They are the tier of local government below the level of district, borough or unitary council (principal authorities)
and are the tier of local government closest to the people. The term ‘local councils’ refers to parish, town,
community, neighbourhood and village councils and not to the district, borough, unitary or county council tier of local government.
Sat on these local councils are some 80,000 elected local councillors, people just like you, who give up a little of
their time each week to represent the interests of their local community.
What are local councils?
There are over 9,000 parish,
town, community and neighbourhood councils (local councils) representing around 16 million people across England and they
form the most local level of government. Each year a sum of money raised locally called a ‘precept’
is collected through your council tax. This money is invested back into your local neighbourhood by your local council to
improve facilities and services for you and your neighbours. Many local councils also supplement the money collected locally
through applications to grant and fund providers securing further resources to invest in the community. It is your local councillors
representing the aspirations of the community who will decide how to spend this money. Local councils can
be found in a diverse range of communities, both rural and urban ‑ with many to be found in some of England’s
biggest cities such as Birmingham, Leeds and Newcastle. Recent legislative change also means that people in London can now
set up a local council in their own area. Whether urban or rural, local councils all have one thing in common ‑ their
purpose is to make the lives of the people in their local community better and to give the local community a voice and the
means to achieve this.
So what do local councils do?
Your local council has an overall
responsibility for the well-being of your local neighbourhood. Their work falls into three main categories:
Representing the local community
to meet local needs
Striving to improve the quality of life
in the local area
Your council might provide, maintain or contribute to the following services:
Allotments; Leisure facilities; Bus shelters; Litter bins; Car parks; Local Illuminations; Community Centres; Local
youth projects; Community safety schemes; Parks and open spaces; Community transport schemes; Planning; Public lavatories;
Crime reduction measures; Street Cleaning; Street lighting; Cycle paths; Tourism activities; Festivals and celebrations; Traffic
calming measures; and many more!
often work with the principal authority in your area and cooperate to ensure the effective delivery of services to the local
community. It is your local councillors, helped by your local council clerk, who identify local needs and ensure delivery.
is a Town or Parish Councillor
Parish Councillors are not employees, they are elected representatives who volunteer their time for free to work on behalf
of their community.
What will you do as
a Town or Parish Councillor?
engage with the local community and keep up-to-date with issues of local
provide a voice for all sections of the community
mediate between individuals and organisations
campaign on behalf of the Council
manage public funds and seek best value
The following are indicative and not requirements. There is a legal requirement to attend Local
Council meetings and abide by the Code of Conduct.
Duties and Responsibilities
To participate constructively in the government of the Parish.
fully in the formation and scrutiny of the Parish Council’s policies, budgets, strategies and service delivery including
the ‘Parish Plan’.
To ensure, with other Councillors, that the Parish Council is properly managed.
To keep up to date with significant
developments affecting the Parish Council at local, regional and national levels.
To be accessible and to represent effectively
the interests of the ward for which the Councillor is elected and deal with Parishioners enquiries, representations and complaints.
the whole electorate; listen and then represent the views of the whole community when discussing council business and working
with outside bodies.
To take an active part in the Parish Council’s arrangements to build community capacity and promote
measures that contribute to the Parish Council’s vision.
To attend Parish Council meetings
To prepare for meetings and being
properly informed about the issues to be discussed.
To take part in meetings and form sound judgements based on what is best
for the community and then abide by majority decisions.
To represent the Parish Council on outside bodies to which the Councillor
is appointed including the Standards Committee and Governing Bodies.
To maintain proper standards of behaviour as an elected
representative of the people.
To fulfil the statutory and locally determined requirements of an elected member of a Local Authority
and the Parish Council, including compliance with all relevant Codes of Conduct and maintaining high ethical standards (including
not disclosing confidential information and not using Council resources for political purposes or any other reason unless
agreed by the Council).
To participate effectively as a member of any committee or working party to which the Councillor is
To contribute constructively to open government and democratic renewal to actively encourage to the Parish to participate
generally in the government of the area and provide access to information where appropriate.
To upheld the Parish Council’s
Standing Orders and ethical standards (ensuring that the impartiality of council staff is not compromised).
To produce and
annual report to enhance their accountability to the public by providing details of official activities and the contribution
made to the effective operation of the Parish Council.
Who can be a Town or Parish Councillor?
You do not have to be a member of any political party. Good
Town or Parish Councillors are concerned with local community matters.
To be a Town or Parish Councillor you must be:
a British citizen, or a citizen of the Commonwealth or the European Union, and
21 years or older on the day you
become nominated for election
for the whole of the 12 months prior to nomination you must:
a.) have been an elector of the parish and either occupied or owned/rented
premises in the parish, or
within 3 miles of the boundary of the parish, or
c.) had your principal or only place of work in that area
You cannot stand for election if you...
are the subject
of a bankruptcy restriction order or interim order
have, within five years before the day of election, been convicted in the
United Kingdom of any offence and have had a prison sentence (whether suspended or not) for a period of over three months
without the option of a fine.
work for the council that you want to become a councillor for.
What skills will you need as a Town or Parish Councillor...
Seek out and listen to others’ views
ask questions, check understanding
Be objective and rigorous in analysing and evaluating complex information
Present information clearly, concisely
and accurately and avoid ‘jargon’
Keep people informed through regular feedback
Know who to speak to or write to
Develop IT skills
Represent the Council and the community
Have a clear vision and communicate
this to others
Be results orientated, lead by example
Champion initiatives and implement change
Foster a culture
of trust, empowerment and participation
Develop public speaking skills
Demonstrate integrity, be reliable, consistent and open
Remain calm and objective in difficult situations
developing new ideas and identifying alternative approaches
Strive for improvement
Manage available time well by prioritising
and negotiating skills
Understand the law relating to Parish Council meetings
Understand the Code of Conduct
Understand planning law and local
Understand the roles of different tiers of local government
Know your local County Councillor/District Councillor
and key officers
Know about local voluntary sector organisations external funding opportunities
How do Councillors develop useful skills
Even new Councillors probably have many of them
Principal Councils have induction programmes do/should parishes?
Use the Council’s
resources - your Clerk and serving Councillors
Your Local Council’s Association - courses/articles
Look out for good practice anywhere - and copy it!
Training needs analysis and development plan
Draw up your own list of skills/knowledge you might feel is important
things you think you are good at - and carry on with them
Identity any weaknesses decide which are most important and decide how to
Not everyone can be best at everything - the Council can be a team - working to individuals’ strengths
- but strive for continuous improvement
Standing for Election
Getting elected to most Town and Parish Councils is not difficult if…
You are willing to put yourself forward as
Opposed, the electorate chooses you.
Elected, you are prepared to make time and the effort to be an effective councillor.
Elections of Town and Parish councillors take place every
4 years on the first Thursday in May. These are known as ordinary elections. General
and European elections may cause alteration of the election day.
For most Town and Parish Councils election year is 2019, 2023, 2027 etc. where the principal authority (county, district
or unitary authority) councillor is elected in some other year that is also the year of the Town or Parish election.
As a prospective candidate you must deliver or send to the principal
authorities Returning Officer a valid nomination Form. This form is obtained from the Officer.
Your surname, forenames, residence and description (if required) must be entered together with your number and prefix
letter from the current register of electors in the parish. The proposer and seconder must sign the nomination
Casual vacancies on a council are when a councillor dies, resigns or
is barred from office. In this instance there must be a by-election. It is important
that you stand election rather than be co-opted to the Town or Parish Council as an election gives you a democratic mandate.
Why stand for election?
Your parish council may be doing good things with your community and
you wish to have more involvement in the decision making process. You may feel that you have the time and
ideas to work with your community and council to make further improvements in local services and facilities.
Equally you may dissatisfied with your town or parish council.
It is very easy to just sit on the sidelines and complain. It is far more productive to get elected
and try to make a change from within. The 4 yearly elections are a good time for a committed group of residents
to all stand for election and effect real change especially in those councils where there has not been a contested election
for many years.
Getting Elected - how, what you need to do…
1. Ordinary v by-elections.
Ordinary elections are held every 4 years. All existing councillors stand
for re- election. By-elections arise when a council seat becomes vacant
between ordinary elections. This is known as a casual vacancy. Elections
must be advertised by town and parish councils for casual vacancies.
Are you qualified to stand?
3. Ensure you are
a registered elector and on the electoral roll.
do not need to be a member of any political party (the majority of parish councils are non-political).
5. If you do not plan on spending any money getting elected you
do not need an electoral agent. There are strict legal conditions on what can be spent
by whom and on what.
6. The organisation of elections
varies from principal authority to principal authority. Principal authorities organise parish
council elections to coincide with their own ward elections.
In some instances all principal authority councillor elections are held at the same time for all wards every
4 years. In others and election cycle is used with 1/3 of councillors retiring
and elections being held 3 years out of 4. If the principal authority has 42 councillors
then 14 will be standing for re-election three years out of four. If in doubt ask the monitoring
8. In parish council elections all councillors
retire and may offer themselves for re-election.
the forms from your principal authority monitoring officer. Their details are often to be found under ‘Democratic
services’ although some authorities may use a different name.
As a prospective candidate you must deliver or send to the principal authorities Returning Officer a valid nomination
form. This form is obtained from the Officer. Your surname, forenames,
residence and description (if required) must be entered together with your number and prefix letter from the current
register of electors. The Returning Officer has a copy of this register.
11. Your nomination form must also contain similar particulars of your proposer
and seconder. They must be registered electors in the parish. The proposer and
seconder must sign the nomination form.
12. Ensure you understand
the times when you MUST return the completed forms.
not rely upon another person to get the forms for you. If possible collect them.
14. Complete the forms and get them signed by proposer and seconder.
15. You will need the electoral roll numbers for your proposer and seconder.
The monitoring officer will provided these for you.
Double check the forms and ensure that they are signed and dated.
Take the completed nomination forms back to your principal authority monitoring officer and hand
deliver them. Get them to check that the forms have been correctly
18. Do not leave returning the forms to the last minute.
If there is a missing signature or mistake you may need to return home.
19. Ensure that you get a receipt for the forms which is signed and dated.
Errors have been known to happen.
20. Don’t forget
to vote yourself and get your friends to vote.
21. In the majority
of cases particularly in rural areas you may be elected unopposed as many councils have vacancies which
they have been unable to fill. This is known as an uncontested election as the number of candidates
is less than or equal to the number of council seats to be filled.
If the election is contested (more candidates than seats available) those candidates with the most votes are elected
until all the council seats have been filled.
Smith’s Wood Parish Council
Council was formed in May 1987 and is a statutory body made up of twelve councillors representing the parish of Smith’s
Wood. Members are elected for a term of four years, with the next election being held in 2019.
The role of the Council is defined in the Local Government Acts of 1997 and 2000 from which it derives its limited
number of statutory duties and far ranging powers and functions, including provision of allotments, cemeteries, bus shelters,
community halls and parish management.
Council is the first tier of Local Government, the other tier being Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council. The
Council also liaises with other bodies that deliver services in the Parish (Police and Community Groups).
The prime objective of the Parish Council was to provide a much
needed youth and community centre within Smith’s Wood. After six years of careful budgeting, Smith’s Wood Youth
and Community Centre was opened in August 1993.
In 2006, the Parish Council were approached by the North Solihull Partnership Regeneration Team to become part of
the regeneration project. The Regeneration Team proposed that the Parish Council, together with Solihull
MBC, be integrated into the new Smith’s Wood Community Primary School.
In March 2011, the Parish Council moved into their new office and by
April 2011, the Parish Council had opened their new Community Gym. Their prime objective for the gym was
to provide local residents with gym facilities in their own neighbourhood and to bring doc spot services to the area.
The Parish Council have provided free school milk for 5 year olds since
their inception and donate to local community groups to support their projects. The Parish Council own
a playing field, which has been hired out to two local football clubs in the past. The playing field is
sited at the junction of Buckingham Road and Windward Way. The Parish Council also hold an annual Family
Fun Day, with proceeds being donated to the local Food Bank.
Current Members of the Parish Council
Cllr Fred Churchill
Cllr Don Cornock
Cllr Graham CraigCllr Hugh Hendry
Cllr Joan Lloyd
Cllr Alan Jacques
Cllr Kathy Jacques
Cllr Kemar Singh Paul
Cllr Mohamed Rashid
The Parish Council currently has two vacant seats.
Employees of the Parish Council
Karen Woods –
Clerk to the Council
Simon Upson – Head Steward
– Gym Steward
Vince McIntosh – Gym Steward
– Gym Steward
Sharon Lee – Relief Steward
Claire Lune - Cleaner