- Category: Council
Castle Cary Town Council is one of around 10,000 community, parish and town councils in England and Wales. This is the lowest tier of local government; the town council sits below South Somerset District Council (SSDC) and Somerset County Council (SCC), who control substantial resources and who have responsibility for services like education, highways, waste disposal and social services. The role of the Town Council is to represent the whole electorate of the parish, especially to these higher tiers of local government; for example, by commenting on planning applications, responding to consultations and raising the concerns of parishioners with those responsible for particular services (e.g. the Police).
In addition, however, the Town Council is able to 'precept' - that is, to raise a sum of money every year, collected as part of the Council Tax - in order to deliver services to meet local needs and to improve the quality of life in the parish. The Town Council owns and maintains a number of properties in the town, for the benefit of the community, including the Donald Pither Memorial Field, the Pavilion and the Children's Play Area, the Roundhouse, the Cemetery and the Cemetery Chapel, the Horsepond and the War Memorial, and a lot of benches and litter bins.
The Town Council consists of thirteen councillors; they are all volunteers, and receive no salary or expenses. Councillors are elected every four years; if there is a vacancy in the meantime, a by-election can be held if enough members of the parish request this, or the Council can co-opt someone. We are always interested in hearing from anyone who might be interested in joining the Council!
Every year, one councillor is elected by the Council to serve as Chair. The Chair is responsible for chairing meetings and ensuring that council business is carried out within the law; she or he therefore takes command of the official gavel, to call meetings to order, but has no other mark of office.
The Council is supported by a Town Clerk and a Deputy Town Clerk. These are employees of the Council, and are responsible for supporting the Council's activities (e.g. dealing with correspondence, keeping records, managing finances) and advising the Council on its legal powers and responsibilities.
The Council has an agreed set of Strategic Priorities for its work, which you can download here.
The full Council meets monthly, normally on the third Monday of every month, to receive reports from its committeesand other bodies like the police and our district and county councillors. This meeting is open to the public, and there is always a section of the meeting where members of the public can raise any issues that concern them or ask any questions of the councillors. The agenda of the meeting is published in advance on the Town Council noticeboard outside the Market House, and on the web: Agenda for Next Meeting
In between full meetings, a number of committees meet to discuss particular issues in detail, make minor decisions, and formulate recommendations to go to the full Council. There are currently six main committees: Finance, Properties, Infrastructure, Planning, Promotion & Communications, and Human Resources.
You can see the dates of forthcoming committee meetings for the next month here.
The Town Council is also represented on many local committees and liaison groups. These include Caryford Community Hall, Viridor Credits, Castle Cary Primary School Governors, the Pavilion and Recreation Committee, Area East Community Safety Action Panel, the Market House Project Group and the Victorian Evening Steering Group. Councillors serving on these groups are expected to represent the views of the whole electorate, not just their own views.
The Town Council comments on all local planning applications: it is a statutory consultee (i.e. it has to be consulted on any application if it so wishes), and can be represented at public inquiries. However, it has no decision-making powers in respect of planning: all such decisions are taken by the District Council. Planning meetings are usually held on the first Monday of the month, and are advertised on the Town Council noticeboard. They are open to the public, and all planning applications are held at the Market House and can be viewed on request during office opening hours. You can find further information here.
CONTACTING THE COUNCIL
You are welcome to call in personally with any Council enquiries. Our Town Clerk and Deputy Clerk are based in the Community Office, which is on the ground floor of the Market House in the centre of Castle Cary. The way in to the office is through the large wooden door at the left side of the Market House. The Clerks are usually available as follows:
Mrs Sue Hake (Town Clerk): Wednesdays 9.30-12.30 and 2.00-4.00, Thursdays 9.30-12.30 and 2.00-4.00
Mrs Maureen Fletcher (Deputy Clerk): Wednesdays 9.30-12.30 and 2.00-3.00, Fridays 9.30-12.30 and 2.00-3.00
Address for all correspondence: Castle Cary Town Council, The Market House, Market Place, Castle Cary, Somerset, BA7 7AH
For a list of Town Councillors (including the chairs of different committees), see here: Councillors
For a full list of powers and duties of parish councils, visit the National Association of Local Councils website: http://www.nalc.gov.uk/About_NALC/What_is_a_parish_or_town_council/What_is_a_council.aspx