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Column 25th July 2018

What exactly should your councillor be doing for you?

Next year will be the Council Elections again and we’ll all receive lots of leaflets telling us what they have done for us and what they will do for us if we elect them again.

So let’s just be clear what responsibilities they have.

County Councillors have responsibility for education and schools (excluding academies), libraries, fire and public safety, waste recycling centres, social and health services, bus services, footpaths and roads and pot-holes.

District Councillors have responsibility for planning and housing development, waste collections, sport and leisure, the Beacon and public car parks but as you will know from previous articles in the Herald they have managed not to take responsibility for parking enforcement so far.

Town and parish councillors have responsibility for the cemeteries, allotments, salt bins (although County should fill them), bus shelters, fairs and markets, notice boards and organising annual events (but not the Dickensian Evening or the festivals).

All councils can give grants to local organisations like the Independent Advice Centre, the Football Club, the October Club, Sweatbox and the Letcombe Brook Project.

The County Council also have a duty to scrutinise the Health Service and the Police.

District, town and parish councils also have the right to appoint Councillors as Trustees to several of the charitable organisations in the town including the Vale and Downland Museum, the Wantage Independent Advice Centre and Stiles Almshouses.

It is important that they take these additional trusteeships seriously. Being a trustee of a charity is the same as being a director of a company with all the responsibilities which that entails.

As any other Trustee, those appointed by a Council should give enough time, thought and energy to the charity and they must avoid putting themselves in a position where their duty to the charity conflicts with their loyalty to the Council which recommended them for appointment.

Councillors provide a bridge between the community and the council. As well as being an advocate for local residents councillors need to keep residents informed about the issues that affect them.

In order to understand and represent local views and priorities, Councillors should build strong relationships and encourage local people to make their views known and engage with the council. Good communication and engagement is central to being an effective councillor.

So I hope that you find your councillors to be effective and good at communicating with you.


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