St Helens Parish Council
The Parish Council provides a number of direct services to the community, and acts as custodian to a number of assets held in the 'public name'. It has one part-time employee, The Clerk to the Council.
Our principle asset is the Old Church Green (leased from Isle of Wight Council) at The Duver. The Parish Council has taken on the responsibility for maintenance, repairs and insurance of this space, including the seasonal cutting of the grass by a contractor. Grass cutting and minor repairs to the central village Greens are also provided by this Council, although the Isle of Wight Council acts as ‘custodian’ of this Common Land (and part registered Village Green) on behalf of the community.
We are also custodians for a number of public benches placed around the parish, and particularly around the village Greens, many of which have been placed in memory of loved ones by local families.
On a temporary basis, the Parish Council is managing the public conveniences on the village Green at Station Road and at the Duver beach. Isle of Wight Council own these facilities and are considering closing them. Whilst these decisions are being considered the Parish Council has stepped in to ensure the continuity of the service for the time being.
Although Isle of Wight Council is the Planning Authority, the Parish Council is consulted on each planning application made in the parish. Councillors consider planning applications at their meetings, and inform Isle of Wight Council of their views.
The Council provides a number of dog waste bins around the Parish. A contractor is retained to empty these bins weekly. In the summer season a general waste ‘wheelie’ bin is additionally located at the beach area.
Each meeting considers issues for our community such as the village Greens, traffic issues, or items of maintenance in the 'public realm' that need reporting to appropriate authorities. We can also consider requests for small grants - see our Policy on this, and how to apply.
A budget is managed by the Council, supported by its Clerk, with funds provided through the Council Tax system. Each year the Council decides how much it will need to continue providing services, and to consider whether it should use its powers to expand its range of activities and support for the community.
Meetings and access
St Helens Parish Council normally meets on the second Monday of each month, except August (November and January), at 7.00pm in The Community Centre, Guildford Road, St Helens. The Annual Parish Meeting, for all electors, is held every May, in the same place.
The venue is accessible on flat ground, and is equipped with a hearing loop. Public seating and copies of the meeting papers are provided. If you would like to attend and have any needs not mentioned here, please contact us and we will do all that we reasonably can to facilitate your visit. If you would like to record, film, or transmit from within the meeting, including using social media please let us know so that we can make appropriate arrangements.
Every meeting is held in public, and the agenda, along with all public notices, is posted on the public notice board outside the Post Office on Upper Green Road, in the Community Centre and on this website. You can find copies of the Minutes of meetings on the Achives pages page, to the left, or receive a copy by contacting us. A helpful news summary of the Council's work is also set out 'Chairman's Chatter', repeating the articles published in the parish magazine and in the County Press.
Each meeting is preceded by an informal 'Members' Surgery', where you can meet your councillors (and your IW Council Ward Members) and discuss your concerns. Access is from 6.40pm in the Community Centre. Items for the Parish Council to discuss 'in session' can be put on future agendas, but unless already set out will not be heard that evening.
If you would like the Parish Council to put an issue onto one of its agendas, and/or if you would like to speak in public to the whole Council at the same meeting about that issue, please contact one of your councillors or the Clerk who will be pleased to assist you. Or come to one of our Members' Surgeries and see us in person.
What is a parish?
There are two sorts of parishes whose boundaries do not always coincide:
St Helens Parish Council was created by an Order, issued by the Secretary of State, coming into existance on 1 April 1985. The Order is below:
What is the civil parish?
A civil parish is an independent local democratic unit for villages, smaller towns, and suburbs of urban areas. Each parish has a Parish (or Town) Meeting consisting of all its local government electors and most (where the electorate exceeds 200) have a Parish or Town Council. Over 13 million people live in such parishes.
What is the Parish (or Town) Council?
The council is a small local authority. Its councillors are elected for four years at a time in the same way as for other councils. Bye-elections may be held to fill vacancies occurring between elections. The council is the corporation of its village or town. Each year the councillors choose a chairperson from amongst their number.
What Powers have Parish Councils to do things for their areas?
Parish councils have a number of formal powers. Many provide allotments, and look after playing fields, village greens and other types of leisure activities such as swimming pools. They have a hand in maintaining or guarding rights of way, bus shelters, public seats and smaller scale street lighting. Councils are often concerned with the provision of halls and meeting places.
How do they do it?
The parish council can do these things by actually providing them itself or by financially helping someone else, such as a volunteer or a charity, to do them.
What else do they do?
A variety of things. Some help social care schemes, or a local bus service. They make village surveys that inform planning authorities. Many provide car or cycle parks. Others provide public conveniences, litter bins and seats, and can prosecute noise-makers or litter bugs. Many appoint charitable trustees and school managers. Very often the cemetery or a closed burial ground, and perhaps the war memorial are managed by the Parish Council. Often, Parish Councils implement and co-ordinate crime prevention measures, as well as traffic calming initiatives. They have the power to improve the quality of community life by spending sums of money on things which, in their opinion, are in the interests of the parish or its inhabitants, and many kinds of activities are aided in this way.
How much do they cost?
Parish Councils are the most unbureaucratic and the cheapest kind of local authority in existence. Their funds are a tiny part of the council tax and they get no general government grant - so they have every incentive to keep expenditures low and be economical.
What else is important?
Parish Councils have lately become more important because a unitary authority can seem more remote.
The parish councillors know the villages and can (and increasingly often do) represent their views to other authorities like the Unitary Council, Health Authorities, Police and Fire Authorities. They are entitled to be consulted on planning applications, which include work to listed buildings and in conservation areas, and are often consulted on such things as schools and roads. They put the parish’s case at public inquiries. Recent moves from Government to greater 'localism' are set to increase the role of Parish Councils even further.
Who controls the Parish Council?
You elect its members every four years - the last time was in May 2017 - and you are entitled to go to the annual parish meeting (in May) and to say what you think. You can also go to every meeting of the Parish Council and meet the Council members and listen to their business. The accounts are strictly audited every year.
How can one find out more?