Local government and the role of the parish council
Since the 1890s, the parish has enjoyed 3-tier local government – with a county council, a district council and a parish council. The functions of each tier may have changed over the 100+ years, but the basic principle of governance in an elected democracy has subsisted over the period.
Today's authorities are very different from those first created in the Victorian era: indeed, councillors who served as recently as 20 years ago would find the style and operation of those councils different. However, some issues, aside from the democracy mentioned above, have not changed. The three councils are bodies created, regulated and, some might say, constrained, by statute law. On the latter point, while the principal councils – county and district – enjoy what almost equate to powers of general competence, parish councils are still subject to the doctrine of ultra vires: the Parish Council may only spend money on matters which law says it can.
That said, parish councils may spend something oddly called the "free resource" on anything which the council feels would be for the benefit of at least some residents. In the case of the parish of Kidmore End, that will amount to about £6,200 in the coming financial year. It is not free money, however, as the council would need to collect it from residents as part of the Council Tax, as with its other expenditure. The district council, who collect the tax, distribute it to the county council, the parish council and the Thames Valley Police Authority, as well as keeping some for its own services.
The functions and duties of the three tiers are broadly as follows:
Oxfordshire County Council
- Children's services
- Adults' care services
- Highways (roads)
- Refuse disposal
- Minerals and waste planning
- Trading standards
- Fire brigade
- Rights of way (footpaths and bridleways)
Our county councillor: Kevin Bulmer
(email firstname.lastname@example.org | phone 07526 743091)
South Oxfordshire District Council
- Refuse collection
- Planning - development control and local plans
- Environmental health
- Collection of local taxes
- Leisure and recreation services
- Cemeteries and crematoria
Our district councillors: Malcolm Leonard (phone 0118 940 2299) and Robert Simister (email email@example.com | phone 01491 576352)
Kidmore End Parish Council
The parish council could provide the following facilities or undertake the following works, all being powers exercised concurrently with other tiers of local government:
- Footpath protection, maintenance and signposting
- 'Footway' lighting
- Physical training and recreation facilities
- Open spaces
- Car parks
- Cemeteries and crematoria
As it happens, the council provides a recreation ground at Gallowstree Common and a children's play area in Kidmore End. It manages some allotments.
Aside from the direct provision of services, the parish council is consulted on many issues by the principal councils: it is, for instance, consulted by the district council on all planning applications relating to the parish. It also reports to the principal councils on any issues relating to their functions, eg potholes in roads to the county council, missing street nameplates to the district council, although the parish council would encourage residents to report these things to the relevant authorities direct.