There’s a vacancy on the Parish Council which may be of interest to community minded residents in Harden. A summary of the vacancy, eligibility and contact details for enquiries can be downloaded here (PDF, 116 KB).
The following notes aim to give Parishioners who may be interested in being considered for the vacancy, an idea of what is involved. The first two sections give a general overview of the role and responsibilities of a Parish Council and what being a Councillor involves. The third section outlines specific features relating to Harden and the last section sets out what the Council is currently trying to achieve in terms of objectives.
The Role and Responsibilities of a Parish Council
Generally the role of a parish council is to improve the quality of community life for their parish and its inhabitants. They can: –
- Give views, on behalf of their community, on planning applications and other proposals that affect the village.
- Undertake projects and schemes that benefit local residents. In Harden recent examples have included Christmas Lights, War Memorial renovation, a community defibrillator and flower bed planting.
- Work in partnership with others to achieve benefits for the village.
- Alert relevant authorities e.g. Bradford Council, to problems that arise or work that needs to be undertaken.
- Help the other tiers of local government keep in touch with their local communities.
What Does Being a Councillor Involve?
A Parish Councillor is normally elected for a term of four years at each election. Sometimes councillors are elected at a by-election or, as in this case, by co-option during the four year period.
Parish councillors can be from diverse backgrounds and of different ethnicity, genders, ages and beliefs. Their political views do not normally extend into their local council work. What parish and town councillors do all have in common is an interest in their local community and a concern for promoting the best interests of it.
Councillors have 3 main components to their work: –
Decision making – by attending monthly and occasional ad hoc meetings, councillors decide which activities to support, where money should be spent, what services should be delivered and what policies should be.
Monitoring – councillors make sure that their decisions lead to efficient and effective services by keeping an eye on how well things are working.
Getting involved locally – as local representatives, councillors have responsibilities towards their constituents and local organisations. These responsibilities and duties often depend on what the councillor wants to achieve and how much time is available.
Harden Parish Council
Harden Parish Council comprises 7 members plus a Clerk & Responsible Financial Officer, who is paid a salary for undertaking his duties. Some of the current members were elected in May 2015, others have joined the Council in the intervening period, as vacancies have arisen. The current casual vacancy was caused by the resignation of Julia Gregson, who had served on the Council for a good period of time and resigned due to work commitments. The members of the Council elect annually a Chairman, currently Gerwyn Bryan, and a Vice Chairman, currently Kay Kirkham.
The Council meets on a monthly basis, usually on the second Thursday of the month. The meeting starts at 7.15, lasts about two hours and is held in the Memorial Hall. In addition, further meetings are sometimes called, usually to deal with projects e.g. allotments or topical issues of the day.
Dealing with planning applications is an important part of the work of the Council. The Parish Council is a consultee in the planning process; it does not make planning decisions as such, although views expressed by the Council are examined seriously by Bradford Council.
Individual Councillors can also undertake specific tasks in respect of part of the Council’s duties. For example, one Councillor leads on planning matters, others act as liaison with other groups, such as the Neighbourhood Services, Police and Parish Council Liaison group. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the co-opted member will take on extra duties, as the Council tries to match activities with particular interests, as well as taking account of time availability. By and large outside of the monthly meeting the time commitment to the role is not significant.
Harden Parish Council – Priorities, Objectives and Approach
The following gives a flavour of the work being taken forward by Harden Parish Council: –
Neighbourhood Development Plan – The Council has just embarked on preparing a Neighbourhood Plan for the Parish, which will take 18 to 24 months to complete (more details here).
The Parish Council sees this as a very important development in shaping Harden over the next 20 years in terms of housing, land development and other related economic activities. A Project Team is shortly going to be formed which will comprise members of the Council plus other co-opted Parishioners who wish to get involved in the detailed preparation of the Plan. This activity will involve some additional meetings.
Parish Plan – The Harden Parish Plan provided a clear basis for guiding the Council in its approach to the range of issues and policies facing Harden. The Parish Council has managed an online and paper based questionnaire to inform a revised Parish Plan, work that we envisage running in parallel with Neighbourhood Planning, with the assistance of our appointed consultant.
Allotments – The Parish Council has been petitioned by residents with regard to allotment provision. There are currently no allotments in Harden. A recent online survey suggests there is sustainable demand and we therefore also intend to develop an allotments project, leading to the provision of suitable facilities, as one strand of the Neighbourhood Development Plan.
Communications & Consultation – The Council wishes to be as open as possible in all its dealings. In 2017 a new website was designed to provide open access to Council proceedings and to include social features and email notifications to residents. The site is being continually improved and developed. We also produce printed newsletters that are distributed to all households in Harden. The Council will undertake to consult as widely and effectively as possible on any major issue which arises, including arranging open meetings for Parishioners to directly express their views.
Community Organisations – The Council will work closely with community organisations for the benefit of the whole Parish. The establishment of a Small Grants Fund has enabled financial assistance to be given to a number of worthy causes.
Services – Many of the services provided to the Parish are undertaken by other providers, so the Council will do its utmost to ensure that these services are continued and provided effectively. In particular, this will involve close liaison with Bradford Council’s Ward Councillors and key members of Bradford Council, for example in Planning and Highways.
Making Harden’s views known – The Council will make every attempt to ensure that the views of the Parish are known and heard, as far as possible, with the objective of influencing important decisions concerning provision of services and policy decisions taken by others. This includes the key area of planning policy, land allocations for new housing and infrastructure improvements.
The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) produces an essential guide for local councillors. The guide is a resource primarily aimed at new councillors but also can be for those thinking about becoming a local councillor. You can download a copy here (PDF, 799 KB).
For any further enquiries or questions please contact the Chairman, Gerwyn Bryan or the Clerk, Ken Eastwood, or any member of the Council. Contact details for members are here and the Clerk’s can be found on the contact page.