Whinburgh and Westfield Parish Council

Our local Parish Council generally meets once a month at the Pavilion. Although monthly meetings are scheduled, meetings are called based on the amount of business that needs to be dealt with. The public are invited to attend all meetings and have time at the beginning of the meeting to  raise issues that affect them or the community. If you are planning to attend a meeting please check the village notice boards or check the Parish Council website.

Elections are held every 4 years and in 2019 there was an uncontested election which meant that there was no need for people in the Parish  to vote.

The early history of the two parishes is unclear, but we do know that under an Order Establishing Parish Councils, dated 8 December 1894, Norfolk County Council established Councils for a number of parishes, including Westfield. We are unable to locate any records of meetings of Westfield Parish Council, but it is evident that a Parish Meeting on 5 April 1898 (again, no minutes of this exist) resolved to petition the County Council to dissolve the Parish Council, and this was achieved by an Order for the Dissolution of Westfield Parish Council dated 15 April 1898. Westfield Parish Council was very short lived.

Norfolk was a county of small villages, and so there were a lot of small parishes. The County of Norfolk Review Order, 1935, sought to rationalise this, and under this Westfield Parish was ‘abolished’ and merged with Whinburgh Parish. The name of the resultant enlarged parish was not changed from Whinburgh.

A Parish Council for Whinburgh Parish was established by an Order sealed by Norfolk County Council. The Order is actually dated “1st January, One thousand and fifty-eight”, but we can assume that it was actually 1958! The first meeting of the Council was on 4 June 1958, and again, we have a complete record of the minutes of these meetings.

It was not for many years that anything was done about the parish’s name, but on 2 August 1995, at the request of the Parish Council, Breckland Council sealed a Notice of the Change of Parish Name. The parish then became Whinburgh and Westfield.

(All documents referred to are held at Norfolk Record Office. The Parish Council documents are under reference PC 180.)

General information on Parish Councils can be found on the web, but below is an extract from Wikipedia

Overview

There are 9,000 parish and town councils in England. Over 16 million people live in communities served by these local councils, which is around 25% of the population, and about 80,000 councillors serve on these councils. It is calculated £1 billion is invested in these communities every year.

Their activities fall into three main categories: representing the local community, delivering services to meet local needs, and improving quality of life and community well being.

Local councils can provide and maintain a variety of local services including allotments, bridleways, burial grounds, bus shelters, car parks, commons and open spaces, community transport schemes, community safety and crime reduction measures, events and festivals, footpaths, leisure and sports facilities, litter bins, public toilets, planning, street cleaning and lighting, tourism activities, traffic calming measures, village greens and youth projects. These existing powers were strengthened by the 2011 Localism Act, including the extension of the “General Power of Competence” to eligible local councils.

Not every civil parish has a parish council: smaller ones—typically those with an electorate of fewer than 200—have parish meetings instead. A parish with a small number of electors may share a council with one or more neighbouring parishes; such an arrangement is known as a grouped parish council, or sometimes as a joint parish council, common parish council or combined parish council.

Parish councils are funded by levying a “precept” collected from within the council tax paid by the residents of the parish. Parish councils are made up of unpaid councillors who are elected to serve for four years. A casual vacancy may be filled by by-election or co-option.

Powers and duties

Parish councils have the power to tax their residents to support their operations and to carry out local projects. Although there is no limit to the amount that can be raised, the money can only be raised for a limited number of purposes, defined in the 1894 Act and subsequent legislation. The “General Power of Competence” is a power awarded in 2012 to eligible councils. The exercise of powers is at the discretion of the council, but they are legally obliged to exercise duties.