History and Background
Parish Councils are the first tier of statutory elected Local Government, supported by their District Council (second tier) and the County Council (third tier) of which they are a part. Although they have a close working relationship with these bodies they also have an element of autonomy and are not directly answerable to these higher tiers of administration.
Parish and Town Councils are themselves statutory local authorities just like the District Councils and the County Council and may act only within powers vested in them by law and according to rules laid down in law. Parish and Town Councils are the same in law, differing only in name. Just like all powers given to public bodies the powers of Parish Councils are defined in detail in legislation.
Stoke Parish Council was originally formed in 1896 following the passing of the Local Government Act 1894 which reformed local government. This Act took a year to pass and aroused much controversy both in Parliament and outside. Gladstone's government had to deal with over 800 amendments; it was the proposal to create parish councils which caused the uproar. The Act created institutions having a civil origin, status and affiliations. The institutions were the parish meeting and the parish council. The Act transferred the civil functions of the older parish authorities to the new institutions. As a result, the church was excluded from formal participation in local government and the traditional functions of the parish which had always had a "Christian" complexion, were to be administered by laymen. The revenues of parish councils came mainly from rates on agricultural land ('Local Council Administration' by Charles Arnold-Baker).
Following the enlargement of Stoke Prior Parish Council's area with the addition of Stoke Heath the Parish Council as it is now was formed in April 2004 . A referendum of all the residents of Stoke Heath was carried out by Bromsgrove District Council to ascertain views on three alternative proposals. The majority of those who responded voted in favour of being a part of an enlarged Stoke Prior Parish Council. The District Council then established the enlarged Parish Council and renamed it Stoke Parish Council. The Parish now comprises the Bromsgrove District Wards of Avoncroft (Stoke Works, Stoke Pound and Stoke Wharf) and Rock Hill (Stoke Heath), with a total electorate of almost 3,730 people (2,200 households).
Nowadays, Parish Councils raise the money they need to carry out their functions by means of a 'precept', or charge on all households in the Parish, which is collected by the District Council at the same time as the Council Tax. The precept money is then paid to parish councils in two equal instalments.
The above was initially written in May 2014 by Patrick Callaway, former Clerk to the Council and revised and updated by Stan Petrovic, Assistant Clerk to the Council, in December 2018
The Current Stoke Parish Council comprises twelve elected or co-opted Councillors who are usually in office for four years between statutory elections. They receive neither remuneration nor expenses, serving the community on a voluntary basis. The Councillors elect from among their number a Chairman and Vice-Chairman who serve in that capacity for one year. The Council officially employs a Clerk as their statutory Proper Officer, who administers the Council's business, and advises on all matters of procedure and legal affairs. The Clerk is also the Responsible Financial Officer, a position defined in law.
Stoke Parish Council conducts its business in accordance with its Standing Orders. The latest version of these can be accessed below.
Stoke Parish Council Standing Orders dated 3rd December 2018