Structure, Roles, Responsibilities

Structure

Beetham parish extends from Farleton in the east to Carr Bank in the west and is split into two wards.  The East Ward covers Farleton, Elmsfield, Whassett; Beetham, Hale, Slackhead and Haverbrack; the West Ward covers Storth, Sandside and Carr Bank.  The division into East and West Wards is illustrated click here to view.

The parish council is a small local authority, as defined by the Local Government Act 1894.  It is the tier of local government closest to the people it serves.  Beetham Parish Council is composed of 9 parish councillors, four representing the East Ward and five representing the West Ward.  In addition, a Parish Clerk is employed part-time by the parish council.  Elections for all nine councillors take place every four years, providing there are more than 4 candidates in the East Ward and 5 candidates in the West Ward.  Any member of the public residing in the parish and over the age of 18 can stand for election. 

Role

The parish council is expected to ensure that the views of the community are taken into account by the various authorities, agencies and organisations that make legislation and take decisions on services and issues affecting the community
It has the power to raise money through taxation via a precept collected alongside Community Tax by South Lakeland District Council (SLDC).  A declared aim of the parish council is to undertake whatever action is needed to attain Quality Parish status.
The parish council meets in alternate months in Beetham and Storth on the first Monday in each month (apart from August).  All parishioners are welcome to attend.  Agendas are posted on the parish council notice boards around the parish prior to each meeting.

Responsibilities

The responsibilities of a parish council include the following :
1)  Planning
Councillors receive copies of all local planning applications.  Depending on the location, planning applications are reviewed by either the East Ward Planning Sub-Committee or the West Ward Planning Sub-Committee.  Comments are then made to SLDC who are responsible for the approval or rejection of the application.  The local knowledge of councillors means that issues can be brought to the attention of the planning department of SLDC at the appropriate stage in the planning process.
2)  Parish Maintenance
An important objective of the parish council is to ensure that the local environment within the parish is maintained to a high standard.  This is achieved via a Parish Steward paid directly from parish council funds and by liaising with a Highway Steward employed by Cumbria County Council.  Specialist arborists and wallers are employed as necessary.
Any issues raised by individual members of the council or parishioners are considered for action.
3)  Street Lighting
The parish council is responsible for the maintenance of a limited number of street lights within the parish.  A close liaison is maintained with SLDC who are responsible for minor road lighting in the parish and with the Highways Department of Cumbria County Council who are responsible for lighting along more important traffic routes.
4)  Roads and Footpaths
Maintenance of local roads is the responsibility of the Highways Department of Cumbria County Council.  The parish council informs this group when repairs of damage to the roads are required. 
Cumbria County Council are also responsible for the maintenance of footpaths within the parish.  However, invaluable support is also provided by the Arnside & Silverdale Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) for that part of the parish within the AONB (west of the A6 road).  The parish council works closely with both organisations to ensure that repairs are carried out in a timely manner.
The Sandside Cutting footpath, currently a permitted pathway, lies on land owned by the parish council.  The parish council is therefore responsible for maintenance along the length of the cutting.  This is managed by a Sandside Cutting Working Group composed of councillors residing in West Ward.
5)  Local Issues
The parish council is actively involved in many other local issues that affect residents of the parish.
6)  Parish Newsletter
A Parish Newsletter is published four times a year to inform residents of the activities of the parish council.  Copies are placed in the parish notice boards, selected locations in the parish and also on the Beetham Parish Council Website (www.beethampc.co.uk).
7)  Other Activities
The parish council is involved in crime prevention measures and any initiatives that will improve the quality of life of its residents.  It liaises with Cumbria County Council regarding traffic problems and supports local organisations.  Though not a direct responsibility, the parish council has a leading involvement in organising the Annual Parish Assembly.