Stanford Parish Council is at the lowest tier of local government which is the one closest to individual residents. We are part of the civil administration and have no connection with the administration of the Church, despite having similar boundaries. The Parish Council deals with a range of local affairs and was set up in 1894 to bring government closer to all local people. Our activities are regulated by statute and they link up with the next tier which is Folkestone & Hythe District Council.
Stanford Parish Council serves about 430 people (2011 census) who live in the 160 houses which make up the villages of Stanford, Westenhanger and part of Newingreen. The Council comprises five councillors, who have no party political allegiance, who are elected for four years and who appoint a Chair each year. They also appoint a clerk who is not a councillor and who receives a salary based on the national scale for parish clerks: the clerk is the legal adviser, financial officer and administrator.
The Parish Council is required to meet at least four times a year, including an Annual General Meeting. In fact we usually meet six times. All the meetings are open to the public and are publicised on the Notice Boards and on our website. These meetings are for council business and only councillors have a right to speak. Members of the public are present as observers – although we always include in the Agenda the opportunity for registered electors to ask questions or to comment on local concerns.
The Parish Council also convenes an Annual Village Meeting which, although normally chaired by the Council Chair, is not a meeting of the councillors but of the parishioners. They have the right to speak and to raise matters of local interest. For more details please see Council Meetings.
The costs of running the Parish Council are covered by an annual payment from the District Council, the precept, which comes from the Council Tax according to a published formula: as at 2020, the precept represents about £50 of Council Tax to each house per year.
The Council publishes a Newsletter up to four times a year which is distributed to every household in the Parish.
Although the Council has limited statutory powers for example with respect to planning issues, we represent the views of residents to those in authority – the District and County Councils, the highway authorities, rail operators, Environment Agency and so on. For more details please see Who does what?
We have campaigned against a number of ill-advised proposals affecting Stanford, Westenhanger and the surrounding villages and have been successful in seeing off the worst threats and mitigating the impact of those that have been allowed to go ahead. For details, please see Major Planning Issues.
All our business is conducted in compliance with a number of regulatory documents, including a Code of Conduct which was established by Government to ensure probity in the proceedings of local government. In December 2006, Stanford Parish Council was awarded Quality status: one of only 4% of councils and one of the smallest councils ever to receive this distinction. This recognised in a formal way, the standards achieved by our council and confirmed that it is representative, properly managed, upholds high standards of conduct, is committed to partnerships with the public services and other groups, delivers local services (in relation to its size), and acts as an information point for the community. Accreditation (by National Government) as a Quality Parish Council lasts for four years so was due for renewal at the end of 2010. The rules for accreditation became even more challenging, and we would not have been able to use the new powers that would be available (because of our size and limited budget) and so chose not to apply.