HOW YOUR COUNCIL WORKS
Control of Budget and Finance Working Party
Control of the budget is fundamental to the work of the Parish Council. A working party reviews income, outgoings and balances each quarter and reports to the full Parish Council. A similar process is used in the Autumn of each year to debate and set the Parish Council precept for the next year. (The precept determines a small part of the Council Tax set for each property and provides the Parish Council with funds.). The precept for 2017-18 financial year is set at £35,000.
Much of the Parish Council budget is spent on maintaining playing fields, open spaces, play equipment, the Highbury PF changing rooms and hard court, litter and dog waste bins, seats and formal planting.
In addition to council tax income from the precept, the council has been successful in applying for, and obtaining, grants from various sources for capital projects and improvements. Examples are a grant from the Somerset Aggregates Levies Fund for the surfacing of the car parking areas at the top entrance to the Highbury Playing Field and the grant from Tesco’s Bags for Life Fund towards replacement play equipment in Lower Coleford Playing Field. Currently, grant sources are being investigated in preparation for providing a BMX / Pump / Cycle track at Highbury Playing Field.
Copies of the yearly accounts can be obtained from the Clerk to the Council.
All Planning applications are dealt with by Full Council. It meets to discuss new planning applications and gives its recommendations, based on local knowledge, to the relevant planning department. Meetings are held as required and take place 2 weeks after the monthly meetings. The Parish Council is a consultee, but does not have planning powers.
One of the aims of the Parish Plan 2009 2019 is to provide a framework for local planning.
The Parish Council has recently been active in responding to consultations from Mendip District Council (MDC) on its Local Plan, which provides detailed planning policies to control development. Part II of the Local Plan, which identifies sites for housing and other development, is expected to go to a formal public hearing during 2017. Currently, MDC is proposing limited release of land for housing at Coleford, due to the number of houses built in recent years. This position could be challenged at the public hearing. In future, when the Local Plan is reviewed, MDC will need to consider the need for housing and other development sites again, for the next phase of development. There are more details on the MDC Planning website http://mendip.gov.uk/localplanpart2
Environment Working Party
The Environment Working Party has the aim of improving and maintaining the amenity and appearance of the village. This has included extensive bulb planting, tree planting, and maintaining the Church Street Garden. Recent projects include reclamation of the former Beacon View allotments to create a Community Garden, and the replacement of the old 'concrete pipe' type litter bins with more practical and better looking bins. The old concrete pipes have been converted to planters. The environment working party is also responsible for the maintenance of the Parish Cemetery and has organised a number of litter picks. Recently the Parish Council has worked with the Somerset Wildlife Trust and resident volunteers to restore the Butterfly Bank at Lower Coleford Playing Field. Further work with volunteers is proposed.
Playing Fields Working Party
This Working Party is responsible for maintaining the playing fields, the play areas and play equipment, the hard court and the changing rooms. Coleford has two main playing fields, Highbury Playing Field and Lower Coleford Playing Field, and a range of play equipment at several sites in the village. The changing rooms on Highbury Playing Field underwent major refurbishment at a cost of around £11,000. Further work has been carried out recently to improve the showers.
Other Parish Council Activities
The council has a range of other duties, including reporting highway problems, and working to improve facilities for young people in the village. The Parish Council helps to fund the Youth Club, run by the YMCA at the Hub.
If you feel you would like to become more involved with the running of village affairs, please contact the Clerk to the Council or the Council Chairman. There are often vacancies occurring for Parish Council members.