The Covid pandemic brought residents and local organisations closer. People reached out, and pulled together. Something seemed to switch. No longer was there a focus on ‘individuals’. It was all about ‘community’. I witnessed that first-hand.
Parish Councils, and those who serve on them, certainly played their part during his recent national crisis. They were front and centre – protecting their people and the places where they lived. They were perfectly placed to do so, being at the heart of our communities.
In England and Wales there are more than 10,000 Parish Council councils, all of which represent the concerns of local residents. They are such an important part of local government and of our society as a whole.
Parish Councils act as custodians for community buildings, are extremely important within the planning process, and oversee other issues such as street lighting, footpaths and allotments. They play a leading role in organising fun things too, such as the forthcoming Queen’s Jubilee Celebrations, planned for June 2022.
We have 62 Parish Councils in Mendip, plus Parish Meetings, all varying in size from the very small rural village to the larger settlements of our towns and city. I’ve been serving on my Parish Council since 1999 and am very proud to have done so. To work with, and to represent, the local community where I live has been so rewarding down the years. I would certainly encourage those of you who want to get involved in your local communities to step forward and have a go.
At Mendip we recognise how important connecting with our parishes is. That’s why we’re starting up our regular Parish Forums again, on September 14th. They’ll be a virtual format for the time being, but we will be trialling hybrid meetings in the near future (a combination of in-person and online attendance).
The monthly Forums provide an opportunity for the District Council to talk directly with parishes about issues that matter to them. We invite our partners and volunteer organisations to the Forums, such as Somerset Wildlife Trust, Somerset Waste Partnership and SPARK, so they can use this channel to present any updates and to engage and consult directly with parish councillors.
Mendip also offers parish councillors regular training sessions (we held a Planning workshop in the summer), and we consult and engage with them about national and local policy changes and developments. Briefings, bulletins and monthly updates are also circulated regularly to the parishes, featuring key news and developments.
You can find out more here: https://www.mendip.gov.uk/parishforums.
It is crucial that as a District Council we maintain strong lines of communication with our parishes, and find ways to support and work with each other. Afterall, we share a common goal – to stand up for, and to standby, our communities. Supporting each other will be even more important of course, as we navigate the move to unitary local government.
As always, please get in touch with me if you have any questions at all – either on email [email protected] or on my Facebook page: @Ros.Wyke. I am always happy to hear from you.
Written by Cllr Ros Wyke, Leader of Mendip District Council
Please get in touch either on my Facebook page @Ros.Wyke or you can send me an email: [email protected].