FAQs about the Council

Letter to the editor

Sir. The Parishioner editorial team forwarded the Clerk to the [Ditchingham] Council a letter from a local resident ‘commenting’ on the lack of Council content in your magazine. As Parish Councillor tasked with local community engagement the Chair has asked that I respond to the Editor on a number of issues raised both with the Council directly, and also forwarded to the Council from the Editor of this magazine. With your permission I have responded also on some general ‘Parishioner’ matters. Much of what follows has already been discussed in the Parishioner, has been posted on the Council’s noticeboard, or is available from the Council’s web site. To address these matters I have set them out in the commonly adopted Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ] format.

Who runs the Parishioner magazine and who provides content? The Parishioner is run on a voluntary basis representing local interest issues of the parishes of Ditchingham, Broome and Hedenham. The Parish Councils provide limited grants (from precept monies) to supplement advertising revenues. It is free for all Parishioners. Copy for publication (eg articles, letters, advertising) can be submitted to the editor, Simon Wilkin, and are greatly welcomed. The Council has consistently contributed content in almost all editions published over recent years but note that neither Ditchingham (nor the other) Parish Councils have editorial control. Contact details are in the magazine.

What is the Parish Council and what does it do? The Council is an elected body to represent the village and meets [at least] six times a year. Councillors are unpaid. Given increasing austerity & localism the role of the Parish Council is becoming more important in local matters dealing with local community engagement, maintenance and the environment, and planning and highways issues. This Council is constantly looking at ways to improve facilities, recently the Play Area was refurbished, and the skate park and youth shelter constructed for young people. Green space and the streets are kept tidied and litter picked, helping to make Ditchingham a village to be proud of. The Council is run on a democratic basis so votes are taken on every item discussed and all processes are transparent so that villagers can see how the Council arrives at a decision. The Council warmly invites members of the public to attend meetings and become involved in local matters. The Council welcomes your ideas and opinions to help Ditchingham village become a better place.

How can I become a Parish Councillor? Elections for Parish Councillors are normally held every four years (the next one is 7th May 2015 in the village hall). Anybody living locally and on the electoral role may vote. If the number of nominees exceeds the number of Councillors needed (11) there is an election, otherwise there is no election and those nominated form the Council. This time there was, despite extensive advertising, a disappointing number of nominees and the following seven people will form the new Council having been elected without a contest: Brendon Bernard; Julian Green; Reg Kirkpatrick; Colin Mison; Richard Mulley; Stephen Read and Keith Weston

If there is a vacancy (less than 11 Councillors) mid-term then the Council can co-opt members. This will be the situation immediately and the new Council may try to co-opt by advertising in this magazine, on the parish notice board, and on the web site. For more information look at web site http://www.south-norfolk.gov.uk/democracy/

How can I find out about Parish Council meetings? Scheduled meeting dates are published at least a year in advance and displayed on the notice board opposite Ditchingham village shop, and on the web site http://ditchinghampc.norfolkparishes.gov.uk/files/2014/06/Ditchingham-Parish-Council-Meeting-Dates-2015.pdf

The Council has a web site; what’s that for and how do I find it? Over 90% of all households in the UK have internet access. The Council has moved with the times. It is now the most cost effective and environmentally sensitive way to communicate locally, nationally and internationally! The web site contains the full contact details of the Clerk and of Councillors, the Minutes of all meetings (since 2011) and the Agenda of the next meeting (published at least 3 days before the meeting). It also includes policies and similar documents that govern the way decisions are made, how the budget is collected and spent, and of planning recommendations. Visit the web site at http://ditchinghampc.norfolkparishes.gov.uk

I don’t have internet access; but I still want to know what’s happening? Please look at the notice board opposite the shop. This displays contact details of the Clerk and of Councillors, the Minutes of the most recent meetings (for one month following publication, normally within 10 days of the meeting date), and the Agenda of the next meeting (published at least 3 days before the meeting). You can call or write to the Clerk who will send you full minutes, or better still, as Council meetings are open to the public, you can attend…

I want to know more. Who do I ask? The Clerk, Chair, or any Councillor will be happy to help. Contact details are on the web site or on the notice board. Please come to the meetings as the public are invited to ask questions before the main meeting. Please contact the Clerk or Chairman beforehand if there is a topic you want to bring to the Council’s attention so that time can be allocated accordingly. Or you can just listen to what’s going on.

Jane Chadd
Ditchingham Parish Councillor

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