A parish council makes up the first tier of local government in England and consists of elected representatives of the parish who voluntarily take on the responsibility of preserving the parish interests in terms of character, history, environment and current requirements. The number of councillors is fixed by Central Bedfordshire Council and is seven in Fairfield.
The council works within the overall structure of local government to get the best deal for local people and is responsible for the services it provides. It establishes polices for action and decides how money will be raised and spent on behalf of the community.
Fairfield Parish Council has regular liaison with Central Bedfordshire Council on any policies that affect future developments of Fairfield and the surrounding areas. Fairfield Parish Council also communicates with the three management companies in Fairfield, local organisations and the Police.
Fairfield Parish Council meets every second Thursday of the month (except August when there is no meeting) in the Community Hall at 7:00 pm. Members of the public are welcome to attend meetings and there is always fifteen minutes allocated for public participation. Up to five members of the public will be given no more than three minutes each to speak, provided the correct notice has been given to the parish clerk prior to the meeting. Minutes of past meetings can be downloaded and agendas are available to be downloaded five days prior to the meeting. Parish council surgeries are run between 6:45 pm and 7:15 pm prior to every meeting where two councillors are available to discuss any issue related to Fairfield. The Annual Parish Meeting is held in March where residents have the opportunity to hear parish news and have their say.
How the annual precept is set
The financial year runs from April to March and is set at either the December or January meeting prior to this.
Before the meeting when the budget gets discussed and agreed, the Responsible Financial Officer (the Parish Clerk for Fairfield) asks all Councillors to supply her details of any expected costs on specific projects. With this information and her own knowledge of ongoing costs she then supplies all Councillors a draft budget so they are prepared when it gets discussed.
The budget is broken down into categories (Admin, Recreation, Repairs and Maintenance etc) and also specific projects. Fairfield is still very new so the budget at the moment is with very little previous knowledge and is made as flexible as possible. The budget is for Fairfield as a whole place and is not calculated by certain areas as anything that is done should be seen as a benefit to all residents. Once the budget is agreed it is sent to CBC. During the year, the Responsible Financial Officer keeps an ongoing comparison between budget and expenditure to make sure budgets are not exceeded.
In the future when new large projects start FPC will also look for grants to supplement the budget.