What is a Parish Council?
A Parish Council is a small local authority representing the tier of local authority closest to the community. Teston Parish Council has 7 members who are elected to serve a term of 4 years. They try to ensure that the views of the community are expressed and taken into account by other authorities, agencies and organisations responsible for taking decisions which affect Teston and its inhabitants.
What does Teston Parish Council do?
Teston Parish Council has a number of formal powers and using these it is responsible for the two bus shelters and the two street lights on the A26, various seats and litter bins, the War Memorial, the village sign and noticeboards, open spaces, play equipment and the allotments. Other matters, such as street cleaning and highway related matters, are the responsibility of other authorities, such as Maidstone Borough Council and Kent County Council. Teston County Council has developed a good working relationship with these authorities, and others, with a view to ensuring by its influence that Teston remains a safe, clean and attractive place to live.
Teston Parish Councillors are also Trustees of the Teston Land Conservation Trust, the Village Green and the Village Hall, and it helps to support local organisations and groups within the village.
How much does the Parish Council cost?
Parish Councils are generally the least bureaucratic and cheapest form of local authority. A Parish Council gets no general government grant and so raise the majority of income from a precept i.e. a tax that electors pay. In 2007/8 the precept will be £8,300. At December 2006 Teston Parish Council had 554 electors and each household pays a little towards the cost.
How do I find out more about what the Parish Council is doing?
Borough and District Councils have become very large and remote. Teston Parish Council keeps its residents informed in a variety of ways. You can find out what the Parish Council is doing by:
1) coming along to the Parish Council meetings. These are held once every 2 months. They provide an opportunity for you to observe the Parish Council as it discusses issues and makes decisions upon matters affecting the community.
2) looking out for reports in Tapestry (the monthly parish magazine) and in the Kent Messenger.
3) keeping a check on the notice board.
4) asking one of the Councillors or contacting the Clerk if you have a specific query. If you need to get in contact with a councillor please telephone, write to or email the Clerk. Contact to the Clerk, save in cases of urgency, should be limited to the hours of 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. The Clerk works part-time hours only and so may not always be available, but she will try to respond to any enquiry as quickly as possible.
How do I bring a matter to the attention of the Council so that it may take action?
You might be concerned about any number of matters, e.g. the cleanliness of the streets, dog fouling, highway related matters, anti-social behaviour etc. You can bring your concerns to the Council by:
1) speaking with or writing to a Councillor or the Clerk. Do this as soon as you become aware of a problem – the sooner an issue is reported the sooner the chance of it being resolved. In appropriate cases, where the Parish Council has had sufficient notice of a problem (usually no less than 14 days before a meeting) and the problem is such that a formal decision by the Council is needed to progress the matter, an item may be put on the agenda for a formal discussion;
2) asking a question or reporting a matter during the public session at a Parish Council meeting. This part of the meeting is intended to provide a means of exchanging information. It is not possible for the Parish Council to take decisions on matters raised during this time. If it is simply information you need e.g. has the Parish Council had details of events to take place at Teston Picnic Site during the forthcoming year, then it is helpful to let the Chairman or Clerk know no less than 2 days before the meeting of any question you wish to raise. This also means that there is a better chance of your question being answered as opposed to it having to be deferred because information is not to hand. It also helps the Chairman to plan the order of questions and ensure the meeting runs smoothly. Remember, if the Parish Council is being asked to take action on a matter it must have adequate notice before the meeting, and if not it will be necessary for the item to be deferred to the next meeting.
How often does the Parish Council meet and what happens at a meeting?
The Parish Council meets once every 2 months, usually on the last Tuesday. Meetings are held in the village hall and these usually commence at 7.30 p.m. A notice of each meeting is placed on the notice board in the week prior to the meeting. Whilst not required by law the Agenda for each meeting is also placed on the notice board so that members of the public can see what business the Parish Council will be conducting.
The Parish Councillors will discuss and consider each item on the Agenda. Sometimes they will resolve to take action on a matter; in other cases it will be necessary for the matter to be deferred so that further information or advice can be obtained
Whilst the purpose of the meeting is the conduct of business by the Council, Teston Parish Council has historically set aside a period of time at each meeting for the public to ask questions and make reports. This is also the public’s opportunity to make comments upon agenda items if they so wish, but it must be remembered that once the public session has finished the public should take no further part in the meeting except with the express permission of the Chairman.
What is the Parish Council’s attitude towards openness and how can I obtain information from the Council?
Teston Parish Council is open about its business and invites members of the public to witness the decision making process by attending Parish Council meetings. In addition, in accordance with legislation, the Parish Council has adopted a Scheme under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 which sets out the information published by the Parish Council to which the public are permitted to have access.
What do I do if I have a complaint about the Parish Council?
The Parish Council is a democratically elected body with authority to make decisions on matters within its power. It works hard to provide a quality service to the people of Teston and to ensure decisions taken are in the interests of the Parish as a whole. There may be occasions when it is very difficult to balance the interests of everyone in the village and not everyone will be happy with every decision made.
It is hoped that you will always find the Council to act fairly and constructively, even if you do not always support its decision. If you should find that you have a complaint about an aspect of procedure or administration then you are invited to contact the Council. This can be done by contacting either a member of the Council or the Clerk who will try to help resolve any problem. If this is not immediately possible you will be advised upon the Council’s complaints procedure and through that procedure the Council will try to achieve a resolution of the dispute.