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What The Parish Council Does

Before 1894, for many years, the affairs of the parishes had been administered by a vestry, or meeting of the village inhabitants.  Inevitably these meetings were dominated by the squire, the parson and the principal ratepayers and some became ‘select vestries’, only open to those people deemed ‘suitable’ to serve.  In many parishes, particularly rural ones, the system worked perfectly well, in others it was virtually non-existent or very inefficient.

For a variety of reasons, including a general movement towards greater ‘democracy’ and a desire to break the power of the Church of England over the lives of nonconformists and non-believers, a Bill was promoted to create Parish Councils.

After a difficult passage through parliament and many amendments, this Bill became an Act in 1894. Its effect was to transfer all non- ecclesiastical functions from the church to the elected Parish Councils.

A civil parish (as opposed to an ecclesiastical parish) is an independent local democratic unit for villages, smaller towns and suburbs of urban areas.  Where the electorate exceeds 200, each parish has a Parish or Town council.

It is primarily a non-political body, to be consulted by the Borough Council on local matters.  It is answerable chiefly to the Annual Parish Meeting, to which is must report every year and must act with the tacit approval of that meeting.

It is financed by a 'precept', included in the rates levied by Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council.  The principal expenditures are for the insurance and maintenance of village assets, the expenses of the paid Clerk and audit fees.  It is subject to an annual audit by the District Auditor, which covers not only financial propriety but ensures that the council acts only within its statutory powers. 

Hurstbourne Priors Parish Council consists of a Chairman, Deputy Chairman and five Councillors elected for a four year term.  The Council appoints and employs the Clerk, who deals with the administration of meetings and affairs of the Council between meetings. 

The Parish Council is responsible for the public footpaths and bridleways in the Parish, as well as for the upkeep of the bus shelters, the Cricket Pavilion and the Recreation Ground (through a sub committee made up of two councillors, two members of the Cricket Club and two village representatives.  Parish Councillors are also trustees of the Village Hall.

All planning applications should be seen and vetted by the Parish Council and its views submitted to the Borough Council, as part of the planning process. 

Meetings are held in the Village Hall on the last Wednesday of the months of January, March, May, July, September and November, with an AGM in May.