Parish Councils are known as ‘Local Councils’ and they are the tier of local government closest to the people. As such, they represent the concerns and aspirations of the local community. They are not voluntary organisations, they are not charities and they are not directly anything to do with the Church.

Smaller Parish Councils, including Wykeham, often do not have a permanent office or any full-time staff and will meet in a local room or in the School. The part-time nature should not, however, be taken as any indication of the effectiveness and efficiency of the Council which works hard for the Electors in running a range of services appropriate to the needs of the community. Locally, these services include helping to maintain the churchyard and clock, grass cutting and maintaining bus shelters, notice boards and benches.

Parish Councils are strictly audited each year. The audit takes place in two stages, initially by an independent, suitably qualified local person and then by a professional firm appointed by the Audit Commission. The annual return is advertised and members of the Electorate have an opportunity to view the accounts and make representations to the external Auditors.

As Parish Councils were created in law, they can only act within the law by exercising their powers and functions which have been conferred on them by Statutes (i.e. Acts of Parliament). Anything a Parish Council tries to do outside these powers is ultra vires, in other words, outside the law.

The range of powers available to Parish Councils continues to change and proposals announced by the new coalition Government, especially in relation to ‘Decentralisation and Localism’, give a clear indication about the Government’s plans to reinvigorate local politics by giving more power to Councils and communities. Legislation enacting the changes will come into force at a later date, but the message from the Government is clear – services are to be improved by bringing them closer and making them more responsive to local communities.

Parish Councils have many powers if they choose to use them. It is how and which of these powers that Councillors decide to use that is important, bearing in mind the financial constraints that inevitably limit what a small community can achieve. Parish Councils can also comment on planning applications and be represented at public enquiries.

Parish Councils do not receive Council Tax directly from the public, but are primarily funded at present from a small percentage of the Council Tax charge made by Scarborough Borough Council on local householders. Parish Council budgets are a small part of the whole Council Tax and Councils do not receive any Government funding or income from business rates. The Parish Council is, however, supported financially by the Borough Council’s Model Agreement. The way that local government is financed is under great scrutiny and there is likely to be a fundamental change the way that the whole of local government manage their services to the community and the way they fund them.

Wykeham Parish Council will strive to represent people’s hopes and concerns by ensuring that local services are provided efficiently and effectively for the benefit of community wellbeing. The Council wants to be aware of what its community needs and will seek to achieve its objectives through team work, accessing grant funding, representation at other meetings and by lobbying appropriate bodies and individuals.

The Parish Council is the collective voice of the community of Wykeham, Ruston and North Moor and any member of the Electorate is very welcome to submit questions to and attend Parish Council Meetings, details of which will be advertised on the Notice Boards and on the Web site.