Birch Village SignThe Council

Council Members

The members of Birch Parish Council are:

Cllr. Elaine Bowtle
 (Chair; Hall and General Village Matters)
Cllr. Chris Harvey
 (Deputy Chair; Play Area Officer and Wildlife Officer)
Cllr. Claire Cottrell (Footpaths Officer)
Cllr. Peter Walsh (Emergency Officer)
Cllr. Marian Campion (Highways Officer)
Cllr. Christine Boyce (Responsibility for
 Colchester Association of Local Councils
)
Cllr. David Ninnim (Solar Farm Officer)

Parish Councillors give their services free of charge and receive no remuneration for representing the community.

Register of Interests: - Parish Councillors within the Borough of Colchester are required by the Localism Act 2011 to register their pecuniary and other interests within 28 days of their election or appointment to office. Registers of Members' Interests are maintained by Colchester Borough Council and can be viewed on the Borough Council's website at http://colchester.cmis.uk.com/colchester/ParishCouncils.aspx

Elections and the Electoral Register

Elections of Parish Councillors are held every four years. If elections are contested, those resident in the parish are entitled to vote, subject to their names being on the Electoral Register. Colchester Borough Council has a policy of rolling registration and the Electoral Register is updated once a month. If you are new to the Parish you can register your name with the Borough Council at any time. If you register by mid-month, you will be included in the next month's register. You can obtain a voter registration form by telephoning the Borough Council's Elections Office on 508904 or 282235, or by downloading one from its website at www.colchester.gov.uk (from Home page go to 'Elections and Voting' then 'Register to vote').

The Parish Clerk

Alan Condron is the Birch Parish Clerk/Financial Officer and lives in the nearby village of Layer de la Haye. Having spent over 35 years in the publishing industry he now runs his own Consultancy business and has been Birch's Parish Clerk since 2007.

Correspondence for the attention of the Council should be addressed to the Clerk whose contact details are shown on the contact page. The Clerk can also advise you on how to contact a Councillor should you wish to do so.

Parish Council Structure

Birch Parish Council has seven councillors who are elected every four years to represent the Parish population. Those interested in serving on the parish Council are particularly welcome to attend meetings and should contact the Clerk for further information. Vacancies sometimes do become available between election times.

The Councillors re-elect the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Council annually in May.

What the Parish Council Does

In general the Council has the right of representation on planning matters, which includes all planning applications and structure plan proposals. The Council considers planning applications and submits its comments on these to the Planning Authority, Colchester Borough Council, who are responsible for making the decisions in such matters. The Parish Council also monitors the state of highways, signs, footpaths, bridleways and rights of way within the Parish and reports problems to Essex County Council's Highway Authority for action.

The Council has direct responsibility for maintaining:

The main day to day activities of Birch Parish Council include:

Meetings and Administration

The Council has a part-time Clerk to deal with all correspondence, take minutes, and execute Council decisions. The administration of the Council is run from the Clerk's residence.

Full Council meetings are held at Birch Memorial Village Hall generally on the first Tuesday in the month but this may vary as notified on the notice boards. There is not a meeting during the month of August.

The meeting in May includes the annual Parish Meeting when the Council reports back to anyone who wishes to come and when the officers and committees are elected for the following year. The times and the agenda of all meetings are posted on the main Parish Notice Board in Birch Street.

Anyone who wishes to attend even part of a meeting will be most welcome, especially if the Parish Council is discussing an issue which affects them. The Chairman can invite members of the public to speak if they indicate that they would like to. Parishioners are welcome to attend any meeting, and time is made available for them to voice any concerns. Councillors may respond and ask questions but no decisions may be taken in this period. The public may not speak once the meeting proper has started. If the item they are concerned about appears on the agenda, their points will be taken into consideration while that item is discussed. The two Borough Councillors try to attend each meeting as do representatives of Essex Police.

Grants

The Council will support local voluntary organisations through its Grant Scheme. Applications are considered annually by the Council, and should be submitted to the Parish Clerk no later than the end of September. On the Policies & Procedures page of this site is the full text of the Council's Grants Policy.

Income

The Parish Council receives a small percentage of the Council Tax collected by Colchester Borough Council by way of a precept tax on all house owners. Other income is obtained from a variety of community grant schemes.

Audited Accounts

Like all public bodies the Parish Council must prepare Accounts each Financial Year (1 April to 31 March), and these have to be independently audited.

The Parish Council's Policies & Procedures

Birch Parish Council has a number of established Policies & Procedures. The texts of these are reproduced on the page Policies & Procedures.