It doesn't have to end in tears


As a Parish Council consultant I hear, sadly far too often, of councillors who find it difficult to work together or with their officers.  Sometimes, if all parties are willing to respect each other's opinions, issues can be resolved, but occasionally it may mean a brand-new start.

Following the resignation of all members of the previous council and their clerk, the residents of Tugby & Keythorpe in Leicestershire elected five new councillors, none of whom had previous parish experience.

I was invited to help them with the procedures and to understand the Council's powers and duties. We agreed new standing orders, firmed up the financial management and set about 'catching up' on the five months during which the village had been without an active Parish Council.

One year on, all five councillors stood for re-election and received a masive vote of confidence from residents.

Meetings are always well-attended, sometimes near to capacity, and the Council has already introduced several significant improvements to the village which have been welcomed by all.

These include securing a community grant to improve disabled access to the village hall, installation of two grit bins, new furniture for the village green and for the heritage area around the ancient village pump.

A neighbourhood planning group has been set up, working closely with the parish council, and a professional facilitator appointed.  A grant of £9,000 from Groundwork has given the group a good start.

Councillors have also attended meetings with County Council representatives and neighbouring parishes to save and protect their bus service.

Tugby & Keythorpe is an excellent example of how a parish council can work to the benefit of the entire community.