Parish Council Overview

EPWELL PARISH COUNCIL                                                              

  1. What it is and its aims

The parish council is a legally recognised and elected group of local people with the responsibility of looking after various aspects of the village and village life.  It is a corporate body (decisions are made by the group as a whole) and is in effect the first tier of local government.  The  council’s aim is to represent the interests of the whole community. Issues include how to improve quality of life in the community, safeguarding the  local environment, influencing other decision makers and how to deliver services to meet local needs.

  1. Who we are and what we do

Epwell Parish Council (EPC) consists of five members from our community who each serve for a period of four years. The next election of the full council will be in May 2022. A serving member can stand again for election.    If, for any reason, a councillor cannot serve their full term the remaining councillors have the power to co-opt a replacement councillor to serve until the next full election. Parish councillors are non party political and are not paid for parish council work.

The Chairman is elected (or re-elected) by the council members annually at the Annual Parish Council Meeting, in May.

The current members of the parish council are:

The parish council employs a Parish Clerk to carry out the day-to-day business of the council. The Clerk advises the council on correct procedures, deals with correspondence and notices, arranges meeting agendas (with the Chairman), prepares minutes and implements council decisions, but has no vote at council meetings. They also act as the Responsible Financial Officer (RFO), appointed by the council to administer the council’s finances.

Our Parish Clerk is Christine Coles, who will also act as RFO.  She can be contacted on  epwell.parishclerk@epwell.com.

The Parish Council holds 3 types of meetings:

  • Parish Council Meetings … are open meetings, held 6 times per year, to conduct the regular business of the Parish Council. Members of the community are welcome to attend
  • Extraordinary Meetings … are sometimes held to review Planning Applications when planning timescales prevent discussion at a regular Parish Council Meeting, but these meetings can also cover other Council business where deferral to our next regular meeting is inappropriate.
  • Annual Parish Meeting … is an open meeting for the parish, usually held in April, at which the Council, village groups and organisations report on their activities.  It is not a Council meeting but is traditionally called and chaired by EPC. Discussion generates useful ideas and feedback from the community helps to steer the Parish Council’s agenda for the coming year

Agendas, minutes and other papers for all the above meetings can be found in the Meetings Section

Our meetings are usually held at the Epwell Village Hall but may be held via video conferencing when circumstances dictate.

Details of our upcoming meetings can be found in the  Diary and the Meetings sections  on this website.

  1. What we spend and how we spend it

The parish council is financed by a precept which is a tax on the residents of the parish, collected by Cherwell District Council as part of the Council Tax bill. In 2021-22 it amounts to £4987. The amount of the precept is decided annually by the parish council as part of its budgeting process.

In the autumn of each year, the Parish Council estimates likely income and expenditure for the coming financial year (1st April to 31st March) and develops a draft Budget. The draft budget is discussed, amended where appropriate, and approved at a Parish Council Meeting in December or January, and our Precept Notification, based on our approved Budget, is then submitted to Cherwell District Council by late January.

Financial progress through the year is reviewed at each Parish Council Meeting.

Financial management is governed by the Parish Council ‘s Financial Regulations which are regularly reviewed, and all documents relating to our current Finances can be found in our Reference archive.

The main items of our Parish Council expenditure are:

  • Administration & governance, including: Parish Clerk salary & expenses, meetings charges, Insurance and Training
  • Running and upkeep of the Playing Field, including insurance and the annual safety inspection of the equipment
  • Grass cutting of Playing Field, road side verges, and maintenance of the drainage channels (grips), as part of an agreement with OCC.
  • Membership subscriptions of support associations, including OALC (Oxfordshire Association of Local Councils)
  • Donations & Grants to local organisations, including the Epwell Echo and the annual Poppy Appeal

See Finance for more details

  1. How we make decisions

As far as possible, all parish council decision-making is carried out in public, at parish council meetings which are usually held every two months. These are advertised on the EPC notice board on the Village Hall, on this website, on Epwell Events and Facebook.

Members of the public are welcome to attend parish council meetings. They have no legal right to speak at meetings, but in practice the Chairman usually encourages statements, questions and comments on matters related to the agenda, subject only to reasonable timekeeping and good order.

By law, the parish council may only make decisions (especially if they involve expenditure) on matters that have been itemised in the meeting agenda, which must be published on the village notice board and website three clear working days before the meeting. To propose a topic for the agenda, please contact the Parish Clerk or a councillor in good time.

Agendas, reports and minutes of meetings are published in the Meetings section

Due to the short timescales for responding to planning application consultations the deadlines sometimes fall before the next meeting of the parish council. We may need to call an Extraordinary Meeting. This meeting will have an agenda and minutes publicised in the same way as a full meeting of EPC, and will be open to the public.  All details of Planning applications and responses submitted can be found on the Cherwell District Council website under planning.  See Planning

  1. Our reference documents

The Parish Council develops, reviews and adopts various policies and procedures, known as the Standing Orders. We also keep a set of lists, accounts and registers, such as the Asset Register showing what the council owns, insurance policies, details of the annual accounts of the Parish Council, and the Annual Governance and Accountability Review (AGAR) which summarises the inspection of the end of financial year accounts and various checklists on governance and procedures. All these can be found in the Reference section of the website.

Parish Councillors are required to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (DPI) which others might reasonably consider to influence their words, actions or decisions as a member of the Parish Council. Each Councillor must make a declaration on appointment, and subsequently update their declaration, if and when a new DPI arises. These declarations are recorded in a Register of Members’ Interests maintained by the Monitoring Officer at Cherwell District Council. They can be viewed on the CDC website.

  1. The services we offer

EPC is responsible for and looks after

  1. the Playing Field and what is available there.  A sub committee of EPC is Epwell Recreation Association   = ERA   ERA Epwell Recreation Association
  2. the Village Green (registered common land),
  3. The land for future Burial Ground (freehold held by EPC)
  4. the two wells (one near at front of  Westwell and other by Yew Tree Cottage)
  5. The village website (epwell.com) and the Epwell Village page on FaceBook
  6. The council is also responsible for grass cutting of the verges, maintenance of the grips (drainage channels in the verges) and related tasks such as cleaning road signs and ensuring adequate visibility at road junctions. We have a contract with OCC.
  7. Community Emergency Plan Reference
  8. Epwell Volunteer Asssistance  (EVA)  EVA Epwell Volunteer Assistance
  9. Traffic in village – monitoring
  10. Salt/grit bins – ordering salt, keeping bins topped up and replacing bins if necessary
  11. State of roads. We encourage use of FixMyStreet  to report problems.  This can also be used to report blocked drains, over hanging trees etc
  12. Street lighting.
  13. Support of wildlife and habitat group
  14. Grant to village magazine The Epwell Echo
  15. Donation to Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal
  16. Organising the Annual Parish Meeting, usually in April.
  17. EPC works with landowners over footpaths and has funded the replacement of stiles with gates where appropriate. We monitor ease of access.

In general EPC aims to support where possible local community and voluntary organisations which enhance life in our village

The parish council owns and maintains, for public use, the items listed on the Asset Register which is in the Finance Section .     These include

  • Playground equipment, football nets, outdoor gym equipment and the Pavilion in the Playing Field.
  • the wells and railings
  • Benches and seats around the village
  • War memorial in churchyard
  • Mary Dale memorial gate
  • Defib at Village Hall
  • Signs and noticeboards
  • Various gates on footpaths.