The Parish Council - Origins and Functions
Over the centuries, poor relief passed from the monasteries to the church vestries and in combined parishes to the Boards of Guardians. Vestries were given power to provide lighting and charge a rate on the householders, another charge was permitted for highway work within the parish, in addition to the poor rate. This was the beginnings of local government as we know it. Boroughs were historically self governing, the whole country was parished and counties well established.
The demand for services, and the organisation of them, resulted in groups of parishes being joined into Rural District Councils. As a result of the apportionment of services to those councils the parishes were left with no mandatory functions but parish government was formalised in 1894 in two ways. Parishes with elected councils were created; where councils were not elected the district council could appoint one. The very small parishes, like Thomley in Oxfordshire that consisted of one farm and a few cottages, were given parish meeting status where all the electors took on the role of a council.
Parish Councils have no duties - only opportunities. The demand for allotments must however be met where possible. There are a variety of ways in which a Parish Council may utilise its assets. Old Marston's assets are the burial ground, recreation grounds and allotments. A Parish Council may also spend £5.44 per elector each year on items outside those having statutory consent, provided that the expenditure is for the benefit of some or all of the electors. That amounted to £16,417 previously. This changes each year and for 2015/16 is £7.36 so the total figure would be £17,421 but that will probably change again for 2016/17 year. This money is raised through the precept.
The precept is an annual demand made by the Parish Council on the City Council requiring it to add to the council tax, for the parish, the amount required. The precept to fund each year's outgoings is determined at the January Parish Council meetings Roy Garner Parish Clerk
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