How To Become a Parish Councillor
On this page we attempt to answer your questions about being a Parish Councillor. If you are interested in being our district Councillor many of the comments below also apply.
What does the Parish Council do?
The Parish Council is the lowest tier of local government – and represents the village of Milton. It was nothing to do with the church, despite its name. The council has little power but a reasonable amount of influence. A prime example of this is planning applications. The planning authority is South Cambridgeshire District Council, but they give details of every planning application within the Parish to the Parish Council for review and will take into account the Councillors’ comments when coming to a decision.
Similarly the Cambridgeshire County Council is the highway authority, but it consults the Parish when it’s considering any road scheme, for example the placing of double yellow lines, or the implementation of a cycle path.
The Parish council is directly responsible for the following: certain recreation facilities (although most of those, including the community centre and most sports facilities are devolved by it to the Milton Community Centre charitable foundation), the allotments, the play areas, cleaning of bus shelters, Christmas lights, the cemetery, many small bits of land around the village (mainly green spaces and beds in the new estates), and the war memorial.
We have a page here which tells you more about the Council and how it fits with the other tiers.
What is involved in being a Parish Councillor?
As a minimum you would be expected to attend most of the full Council meetings which are held on the first Monday of every month (except August) at 7:30pm in the Bowls Pavilion on Coles Road. The Council also has a number of committees which you can join if you wish and meet on other nights. In particular the Planning Committee meet on the third Monday of every month, if there is any planning business to consider. Other committees meet throughout the year as necessary.
You may also get approached by villagers asking you to help them with their problems, especially in things like planning matters, but this does not happen very often.
What sort of people become Parish Councillors?
All sorts. They have a broad spread of ages with a wide variety of backgrounds and occupations.
Am I eligible?
In order to be a Parish Councillor you must be aged 18 years or over and be a Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of an EU member state and you must qualify to be a Parish Councillor for Milton in one or more of the following ways:
- be a local government elector in the Parish (ie on the electoral roll)
- owned or rented land within the Parish for the last twelve months
- lived in the Parish or within 4.8 kilometres (3 miles) of it for the last twelve months
- worked in the Parish for the last twelve months
Many people qualify on more than one of the above grounds.
Do I have to join a political party?
No. Nor do you have to say if you are a member of a party if you are (although some parties themselves insist that you do if you are – Labour do for example).
I am interested – what do I do now?
The full council is elected every four years, however Councillors sometime resign in mid-term so there are occasional “casual” vacancies that are usually filled by co-opting someone. The way this works is that the Parish council finds one or more people who might be suitable and then votes to select one. It is rare that there is more than one candidate.
So if you are interested in being co-opted the next time there is a vacancy make yourself known to the Parish clerk, chairman or any of member of council.
What about being a District Councillor?
This page has dealt primarily with the Parish council. We also have two District Councillors, to represent us on South Cambridgeshire District Council. Being a district Councillor is considerably more onerous than being a Parish Councillor – you will get a lot more documents to read, meetings happen during the day and in Cambridge not in Milton, and you will find you are often approached by villagers with problems. One of our current District Councillors estimates that they are putting in an average of 15 hours a week on Council business, and considerably more some weeks. This is not to put you off, but you should be aware that it is a much greater commitment.