Nazeing Parish Council was established at the end of the 19th Century and has therefore been in existence for well over 100 years. It is one of 10,000 parish and town councils that exist across England and Wales which form the lowest tier of local government. There are 24 parish and town councils in Epping Forest District. Powers and functions are controlled by statute but include the ability to levy a tax or precept which is added to the Council Tax Bill payable to the District Council.
There are three wards in Nazeing: Nazeingbury with seven Councillors and Riverside and Bumbles Green each with three Councillors. Parish Councillors are elected every four years with the each election held in May when all Councillors must stand down and, if they wish to stand again, will have to be re-nominated. If there are more nominations than positions in any of the three wards then an election will be held there. The candidates with the most votes from those on the Electoral Roll in those wards will be elected.
If an interim vacancy occurs then there is a process for calling a bye election. If it is not called then the vacancy may be filled by co-option.
Nazeing Parish Councillors are unpaid and rarely claim expenses other than reimbursement of any payments made on behalf of the Council. When Councillors take office they have to agree to abide by a Code of Conduct and declare details of any relevant pecuniary interest that they or their spouse may hold. These interests are shown on the EFDC website and repeated on this website. If any matter arises at a meeting that involves a pecuniary interest then that Councillor must leave the meeting without speaking on the issue.
Nazeing Parish Council is directly responsible for footway lighting, allotments and some recreation grounds including, in particular, the Leisure Centre at Bumbles Green. It also becomes involved with many other local issues. The most important is probably planning where it carries out a “commentary” role. Whilst the Parish Council cannot approve or reject an application it can notify the planning authority (usually EFDC) either that it has no objection or that it has objections which are then submitted, with reasons, for consideration. In the event that the Parish Council objects to an application it cannot be decided by planning officers under their delegated powers and must be referred to the EFDC Planning Committee. In addition the Parish Council may nominate a speaker at the District or County planning meeting.
Parish affairs are conducted through meetings which are almost invariably held in public. Agendae for all meetings are placed on notice boards and now on this website. Minutes also appear on the website once approved. The full Council meets once a month usually in the evening of the fourth Thursday.
The Planning Committee meets usually on the second and fourth Thursday evening in the month because of the volume of planning applications and the need for prompt responses. There are about 120 planning applications a year in Nazeing.
Most meetings are sparsely attended by residents but occasionally an issue of concern arises and the hall at Bumbles Green Leisure Centre becomes crowded.
There is an opportunity for the public to speak on any issue at the full Council meeting. Applicants, objectors and/or neighbours can usually speak at Planning committee meetings. In that way Councillors can more correctly gauge how to respond to the planning authority.
Although parish councils have limited powers their existence offers a formal opportunity for opinions and actions to emerge about local issues as diverse as road maintenance, policing, play areas, trees, buses and footpaths.
Most of the actual work and correspondence is done by the Clerk but Councillors sometimes assume agreed responsibilities for particular tasks. They then report back to the relevant meeting. Naturally, Councillors tend to become involved with matters that closely interest them. Some have been on the Council for more than 20 years but others are new to the role.
If any resident is interested in becoming a Councillor then the best action would be to attend one or two meetings and get a flavour of what takes place. They will be most welcome. Whilst it would be preferable then to stand for election, co-option is a possibility on the occurrence of a casual vacancy.
Vacancies and elections are displayed in good time on Parish notice boards and will appear on this website.