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Frequently Asked Questions

 

How will Stalybridge Town Council be funded?

The Council would be funded through a precept: this is an amount of money paid by each household and added to its Council Tax bill. Like Council Tax, the precept is based on the type of property you live in.
The precept is set each year by the council when it decides its budget. The budget covers the running costs of the Town Council, including the clerk’s salary, accommodation costs, IT costs and insurance. The budget is also set to enable the council to deliver activities or services determined by tax payers’ priorities.
There is no cap on the precept which the council can set, but it must be agreed by a majority of the elected councillors who themselves are residents (or have strong connections to the Town Councils area) and who will also be paying the precept.

How much will the Council cost me?

It depends on what the Council seeks to achieve but as a guide the 2014/2015 precept for a Band D property in Baildon Town Council is £15.32 per year and in Mossley Town Council area it is £7.05.

You can find out more about council tax on this link. http://www.tameside.gov.uk/counciltax

The precept would be collected on behalf of Stalybridge Town Council by Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council. However, all money collected through the precept for a Local Council must be used in the Local Councils Area. It cannot be spent by the Borough Council in other parts of Tameside.

How will I know what the Community Council spends the money on?

The Council‘s spending will be guided by what local people say they want. By law, the Council has to be publicly accountable for all money spent and to keep accurate and open records.

What types of activity can a local Council do - and what can it not do?

A local Council, such as the proposed Stalybridge Town Council, must be consulted about planning applications by the planning authority, in our case Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council.

A local Council can also undertake many other activities including: creating neighbourhood plans, supporting local groups through grants and publicity, developing tourism and regeneration strategies – and delivering them, health and well-being initiatives, running public assets such as toilets, organising community transport schemes, funding Christmas lights, taking on and managing markets, establishing community energy schemes, setting up and managing an up to date website detailing activities and issues in the community.

What Local Councils cannot do is take on the responsibilities of a principal authority e.g. education, transport, social services, development and building control, environmental health.

How do we get a Town Council for Stalybridge?

1 Sign the official petition for a council: Please follow the Link for businesses holding copies of the petition.

10% of the electorate in the proposed Stalybridge Town Council area must sign a petition in favour of a new Local Council to trigger a consultation called a Community Governance Review by Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council. The Review is an opportunity for all residents to give their views on the proposal. Based on its findings, the district authority then decides if we will get a new Local Council – or not.

If the borough council gives the go-ahead for Stalybridge Town Council, elections will be held to select councillors and the precept will be set to cover initial running costs. The National Association of Local Councils also provides mentors and support to enable the setting up of the new Council.

2 Join Stalybridge Together Group

3 Consider standing as a local councillor.


Isn’t this just another layer of bureaucracy?

All issues discussed will have a direct relevance to the local community and if you attend meetings as a member of the public you will have the opportunity to have your say about things before the Council discusses them.

Does this mean we can have our own mayor?

If and when a Local Council is formed it could decide to call itself a town council – then the chairman of the local council can be known as the Mayor. If the area has a parish, community, neighbourhood or village Council the leader is simply known as the “chairman/chairwoman/chair”.

Where is the money spent?

The running costs of a Council include the clerk’s salary and costs, insurance, costs for meeting rooms, communications (e.g. website, publications, newsletters and posters). Thereafter, the money is all spent in the area on services to be provided by the Local Council. These will be targeted to benefit the local community and the money will not be going to Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council.

Isn’t this just so that councillors get expenses?

Unlike councillors on Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, your local councillors will not be paid allowances for attending meetings etc. If councillors have to attend meetings outside the area then it is reasonable that their travel expenditure is reimbursed. The council will need to employ a Clerk and this person will be recompensed according to a national scale.

Isn’t this more 'jobs for the boys'?

No – anyone who is on the electoral register for the area will be able to stand for election. That is one of the big benefits of having a Local Council – it will be local people taking decisions for local people.

Who will decide where our money goes?

The Council will vote on where and when to spend your money. Some of these decisions might be controversial but all councillors will have an opportunity to vote. No individual councillor can spend money as, by law, all decisions have to be taken by the Council.

Does this mean we can stop paying our council tax to Tameside Council?

No. You still have to pay your council tax to Tameside Council, the principal authority, as it covers things like social services, education, police, fire service, highways, libraries etc.

We’ve already got a good community association and Neighbourhood Forums – why do we need a council?

Community Associations and Neighbourhood Forums do a great job and the new council will work alongside them but the important thing about the local council is that you will decide who makes the decisions and you will be able to vote those people on or off the council.

A local council can also only do those things allowed by law and it has to be accountable to the public. This means that meetings have to open to the public and accounts have to be published every year so that everyone knows how much has been spent and on what.

In addition, a local council must meet regularly, so unlike a Neighbourhood Forum, it is not dependent on Tameside Council to convene it. A local council also has other powers and rights which a Neighbourhood Forum does not have such as being consulted about planning applications.

A local council is a sustainable organisation, not so reliant on the enthusiasm and commitment of individuals. Once established, it is a legal body that will always exist.

Increasingly, as Tameside Council needs to make major cuts in spending and services, local councils can put forward the views of local residents. If a service is cut by the principal authority but local people want it to continue a local council can be one way to take on and run the service.

How will the Local Council work with the principal authority?

The advantage of a Local Council is that when the Principal Authority  has proposals for the local area it can contact the Local Council and ask for its views. Those views will reflect the thoughts of the local community. A Local Council also provides a democratically elected body to consult with if the principal authority is considering devolving some services, i.e. looking to close public toilets or other amenities.

The Local Council works with the existing representatives for the area who sit on the principal authority.

What is a councillor?

Councillors are elected on to a council to represent a specific geographical area. In smaller parishes councillors represent the whole area but larger Councils are split into smaller divisions called ‘wards’. This is to ensure fair representation. Councillors are generally elected by the public every four years and the aim is to coincide with general or other local elections to minimise any additional costs.

How are Councillors elected?

Councillors are elected by secret ballot, normally timed to coincide with other council elections.

Can I be a Councillor?

Anyone can stand as a councillor so long as they meet the qualification criteria. You must:

Be 18 years of age or over at the date of your nomination, and a British or Commonwealth citizen, a citizen of the Republic of Ireland or a citizen of another Member State of the European Union
and either: 

Be a registered local government elector for the parish both on the day you are nominated and election day;

or

Have occupied as owner or tenant any land or other premises in the town during the whole of the twelve months before the day you are nominated;

or

Your principal or only place of work in the twelve months before the day you are nominated has been in the town;

or

You must have lived in the town or within 4.8 kilometres (3 miles), during the whole of the twelve months before the day you are nominated.

You can’t be a Councillor if you are disqualified for standing for any of the following reasons:

You are subject of a bankruptcy restriction order or interim order;
You have, within five years before the day of the election, been convicted in the United Kingdom of any offence and have had a sentence of imprisonment (whether suspended or not) for a period of over three months without the option of a fine;
You work for the council you want to become a councillor for (but you can work for other local authorities, including the principal councils that represent the same area).
If the council has a vacancy, then subject to satisfying regulations, it may co-opt as part of the election process. This means that it can appoint a qualifying person to the council for the unexpired term of office. Your local councils association can advise on how this is done.


How to stand for Office

To stand for office you must obtain a nomination paper from the Returning Officer for your principal Council. This must be signed by a Proposer and a Seconder then returned to the Returning Officer by the time and date stipulated.

How are decisions taken?

The council makes decisions by councillors voting. A proposal is carried so long as it has the majority of votes cast. In the event of a tie, the Chairman (or Mayor in the case of a town council) also has a casting vote. The same rules apply to committees and sub-committees.

How much time does being a councillor take up?

This depends on the individual councillor. When you are elected as a councillor you have a duty to attend meetings. Whilst you may have volunteered to be a councillor it is important to remember that it is a statutory role and with the office comes responsibility. In the main, being a community, parish and town councillor is an enjoyable way of contributing to your community and helping to make it a better place to live and work.

I am not a member of a political party and do not want to be!

Most community, parish and town councillors are not party political. If you wish to stand as a party political candidate, you may, but would need permission from the relevant party.

I have heard about something called the Localism Bill. What is this and does it affect Local Councils?


       This was published in December 2010 and aims to shift power away from central government back into the hands of individuals, communities and Councils.

Key points affecting local councils include:

    • a power for local people to approve or veto excessive council tax rises ;
    • a right for Local Councils to express an interest in running local services ;
    • the chance for communities to develop a bid and raise the capital to buy a local community assets;
    • the power to instigate a local referendum on any local issue;
    • a new general power which will allow Councils, including certain Local Councils to do anything apart from that which is specifically prohibited;
    • Relaxation of the Code of Conduct regime and abolition of the Standards Board for England. Councils will be expected instead to promote and maintain high standards of conduct, including the adoption of a voluntary code of conduct;
    • changes to the Community Infrastructure Levy including provisions requiring some of these funds to be passed to neighbourhoods where the development has taken place;
    • a new right for Local councils to shape their areas through neighbourhood plans. This will enable communities to permit development without a need for planning applications and to take forward developments.

Copyright © Stalybridge Together 2014