In Praise of Town and Parish Councillors

Written by David Chandler.

In Praise of Town and Parish Councillors

There are important local government elections coming up on May 4th 2017.

Elections are taking place in May in every Wiltshire division to elect all our 98 county councillors.  Wiltshire is a Unitary authority, with no lower tiers of Districts, so County Councillors have an important job. For this they are paid an attendance allowance, and those with extra responsibilities such as Cabinet Members and Committee Chairs are paid what almost amounts to a salary.

There are also elections for the 253 town and parish councils in Wiltshire on the same day.  Almost 2,000 people serve as councillors at this lowest level of local government in Wiltshire and receive no remuneration whatsoever.  The councils vary in size from five to over twenty and are the councils who are closest to their communities.  All town and parish meetings are held in evenings to allow people who work during the day to attend.

The work of our Town and Parish councils is important because as an elected body they have to represent the whole of their community on every issue facing the town or parish.  Their balanced judgement of an issue contrasts with the single issue campaigning groups whose noisy publicity gives only one side of the argument.

In the case of Marlborough Town there are eight councillors for West Ward and eight for East Ward.  The sixteen councillors manage the work of the council such as public and open spaces, consultations on planning matters and civic occasions.  Let’s hope we have at least sixteen names going forward in May to serve on Marlborough Town Council.

For good communication between County and Town it would be in the best interests of both, if County Councillors also serve on the Town Council.

Town and Parish councillors are the unsung (and unpaid) heroes of local government and deserve our thanks and support for the work they do throughout their four years in office.

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