At its December 2011 meeting, the Parish Council unanimously adopted the proposal that it would work towards attaining Quality Council status as a performance objective. What does this mean?
The Quality Parish and Town Council Scheme was launched in 2003 following the Government’s Rural White Paper, 2000 and updated in June 2008. The aim of the Scheme is to provide benchmark minimum standards for parish and town councils.
The Scheme offers a number of benefits, primarily, to the community that the parish council represents but also to the parish council itself and, secondarily, to the principal local authority in the area (SHDC in our case).
By working towards attaining Quality Council status, your parish council will be sending out the message that, in time, it is determined to reach certain minimum standards of performance expected of an active parish council, and to become a truly effective and worthy representative of its community.
What is a Quality Parish Council?
A Quality Parish Council:
- is representative of, and actively engages, all parts of its community, providing vision, identity and a sense of belonging;
- is effectively and properly managed;
- articulates the needs and wishes of its community;
- upholds high standards of conduct;
- is committed to work in partnership with principal local authorities and other public service agencies;
- in proportion to its size and skills, delivers local services on behalf of principal local authorities when this represents the best value for the local community;
- works closely with voluntary groups in its community;
- provides leadership to the community through its work on parish plans; and
- working with its partners, acts as an information point for local services.
The Quality Criteria
In order to achieve Quality Status, parish councils must demonstrate that they have reached the standard required by passing several tests. These involve:
- Electoral Mandate
- Qualifications of the clerk
- Council meetings
- Communication and Community Engagement
- Annual Report
- Code of Conduct
- Promoting local democracy and citizenship
- Terms and conditions
In several of these tests, Bigbury currently falls short of the mark and the new performance objective will involve all those serving the Council in a programme of personal training and development so that, as a council, “we do the right things and do things right”.