District Matters

Working with Parish Councils

April 2024

One of the commitments that I made when I became the Leader of Stratford on Avon District Council (SDC) was to visit a range of different communities and community groups as well as Parish and Town Councils across the district. Part of my role is to understand their concerns and to support their work.

In the past year I have visited many communities and spoken with parish councillors from Henley, Southam, Wellesbourne and Walton Parish Councils, as well as those of Alcester and Coughton in my own Ward. Several more visits are planned for the near future.

I firmly believe that local democracy is important at all levels. Parish and Town Councils are the first tier of local government and are closest to the communities they serve. They have a vital role within their communities and in acting on behalf of the residents they represent. 

An impressive range of projects are undertaken by Parish and Town Councils. These include mowing grass, repairing paths, addressing natural flood management, planting orchards, running allotments, looking after community buildings, supporting climate change initiatives, and installing and maintaining play equipment as well as issuing grants, developing Neighbourhood Plans and much, much more.

I have been particularly impressed by the work that is being done to improve standards in public life by organisations such as Warwickshire & West Midlands Association of Local Councils (WALC), which represents, trains, and advises Parish and Town Councils, as well as by the District Council itself.

SDC has an active Parish Champion in place and while the District Council is not legally obliged to have parish or town councillor representatives on its governance committee, it has always believed this interaction to be important.

The Council has just started the process of selecting two new non-voting members to sit on its Audit and Standards Committee. Invitations to submit nominations will be going out to Parish and Town Councils in the next few weeks.

By law, SDC and every Parish and Town Council in the district must have a code of conduct that applies to all councillors when they are performing their role. SDC uses the model code adopted by the Local Government Association and investigates every complaint made about the conduct of its district, parish or town councillors.

Civility and respect should be at the heart of public life and good governance is fundamental to ensuring democracy is effective and functions well at all levels.

Indeed, a Civility & Respect Pledge has been adopted by 1,465 Parish and Town Councils across the country. This Pledge was introduced in 2022 by the national body representing Parish and Town Councils, the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), after seeing an increase in unacceptable intimidation, abuse, bullying and harassment of councillors, clerks and council staff, in person or online. All signed-up Councils are listed on the NALC website.

With my encouragement, SDC will be promoting the Civility & Respect Pledge. Unreasonable behaviour prevents councils from functioning effectively and undermines public confidence and trust in local democracy.

Looking forward to the coming year, I shall visit more Parish and Town Councils to hear fresh ideas, address concerns, discuss decisions taken by SDC and ask how more support can be given to them to continue their valuable community work. 

Contact: The Communications team

Last updated on 03/10/2022