1. Paddock Wood Town Council is divided into two wards. The East Ward has seven members and the West Ward has six members. Although elected to a specific ward, members can speak on any issue not just those related to their ward.
2. Full Council meets on the 3rd Monday of every month, at the Day Centre, Commercial Road. Meetings commence at 7.45, unless otherwise stated.
3. The Council has five full Committees: Planning and Environment, Estates, Finance, Personnel and Policy,Procedures and Protocol (PPP) . The P & E committee meets on the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month, except August. The Estates Committee meets on the 2nd Monday of every month, except August. The Finance Committee meets in June, November and January to review & set the budget for the following financial year, and the Personnel committee meets as required. The Policy & Procedures Committee meets April, August & October.
4. The Council employs a full time Clerk and a part time Deputy Clerk. They are based at the Town Council offices in The Podmore Building, St Andrews Recreation Ground. The Clerk normally works 8.30 – 4, with time off in lieu for evening meetings. The Deputy Clerk works 9 – 12, Monday to Friday, with time of in lieu for evening meetings.
5. Also employed is a full time Estates Manager, and two full time ground staff who work 8 – 4 pm and are based at the Memorial Recreation Ground. New workshops were built in 2007.
6. Three casual members of staff are also employed, one to clean and look after the Day Centre and the other 2 to lock the gates at the Memorial Recreation Ground and Foal Hurst Wood each day.
7. The Clerk is the Proper Officer of the Council and the Responsible Financial Officer. The Deputy Clerk is the Cemetery Clerk and also administers the Planning Committee.
8. The Council has set a precept of £355,946 for the year 2016/17.
9. The Town Council is responsible for the following areas in Paddock Wood:
Foal Hurst Wood
Allotments (Ringden Avenue, Kent close, Badsell Road)
Cemetery and Closed Church Yard
Putlands Playing Fields
Memorial Recreation Ground & Tennis Courts including pavilion and play area
Elm Tree Playing Fields and pavilion
St Andrews Recreation Ground (Play area, Hall and Podmore Building)
Green Lane Recreation Ground and play area
Clover Way Play Area
The Ridings Play area
Land at the junction of Mount Pleasant and Maidstone Road
Town Centre Planters
Open Space at Cobbs Close
10. The council is responsible for limited footway lighting in Paddock Wood, and is a consultee for all planning applications. The Council can also lobby the Borough and County Council when necessary.
11. A new skateboard park was built in 2007 following a campaign by the Town’s teenagers. The Athletics Club built a training track at Putlands which opened in 2015.
The town council has been working with the community group Play Paddock Wood to improve the play area in Paddock Wood. New children’s play areas have been installed in St Andrews Recreation Ground and the Memorial Field thanks to the efforts of this group.
The Role of the Chairman
The Town Council is not properly constituted until it has appointed a Chairman; therefore the appointment of the Chairman must be the first item on the Agenda of the Annual meeting of the Town Council. The Chairman is the proper person to represent the Town on ceremonial occasions elsewhere.
The Chairman must preside at council meetings, unless absent, and is responsible for seeing that meetings are conducted properly. When voting at a meeting is equal the Chairman has a second or casting vote.
The Role of A Councillor
In brief the role of a councillor is as follows:
Fixing a budget – there is a statutory duty to prepare an annual budget. The responsibility for preparing the budget lies primarily with the Financial Officer, but the Council must approve the final version.
Making Management policy decisions – some decision-making is delegated to the committees.
Issuing guidance to staff
Checking that decisions made by the Council and its committees are implemented. The responsibility for policy implementation rests with the Clerk: the Council makes the decisions and the Clerk carries them out.
To suggest new initiatives or developments of existing policies.
To ensure that the views of the community are put to the relevant persons or bodies and that the special interests of the community are protected or promoted. This will involve attending meetings of outside bodies from time to time. Members may also be asked to represent the Council at additional meetings arranged by KCC, TWBC or other groups as and when required.
Councillors must sign a declaration of acceptance of office before or at the next meeting after his/her election. This must be signed in the presence of the Proper Officer of the Council (Clerk). Members must also complete the Declarations of Interests form and undertake to observe the Code of Conduct
Attend training courses as appropriate.
The Role of the Clerk
The Clerk is the Chief Executive officer of the Council, and along with all other staff, is employed by the Council. All staff are employed under the terms of the employment contract negotiated between National Association of Local Councils (NALC) and the Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC).
The Clerk’s overall position is to carry out policy decisions of the Council. The Clerk will also advise the Council on aspects of Law and Procedure. The Clerk is not however, expected to be an expert on all matters and may seek advice as required.
The Clerk is responsible for:
Issuing agendas and taking the minutes at meetings
Administering the council
Supervision of Staff
Management of property
Health and Safety
Ensuring the Council acts within its powers
Ensuring that the Council complies with all current legislation
The Clerk is also the Responsible Financial Officer (RFO) whose duty it is to determine the form and content of the accounts and supporting records subject to direction from the council and in compliance with the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2003. The RFO is also responsible for payroll, VAT and payments to the Inland Revenue.
The Clerk will issue the agendas on the Tuesday before the meeting. The Council or Committee cannot make a decision unless the item is on the published agenda. However, an exchange of information may take place. Members are asked to notify the Clerk before the agenda is issued if there is an item requiring a decision they wish to have included. Members should also contact the Clerk prior to the meeting if they require any further information about an agenda item
Members must declare any interests they may have at the beginning of the meeting, and state whether it is personal or prejudicial. If they have a prejudicial interest they must leave the room whilst the item is being discussed. If during the course of a meeting a member realises that they do have an interest they must declare it at that point. Anyone who is unsure as to whether or not they have an interest should, in the first instance, contact the Clerk. If necessary advise from the Monitoring Officer at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council will be sought. It is however, the member’s responsibility to declare an interest. It is not the Clerk’s role to remind members to do so. Failure to declare an interest could result in a breach of the Council’s Code of Conduct.
“A prejudicial interest is one in which a member of the public with knowledge of the relevant facts would reasonably regard as so significant that it is likely to prejudice the member’s judgement of the public interest.” Model Code of Conduct for Parish Councils.
The above information is designed to give prospective members of brief overview of the workings of the Council. It is by no means an exhaustive report and further details and information can be obtained from the Clerk, who can also supply the following publications:
Local Council Administration – Charles Arnold Baker (the Clerk’s bible)
The Parish Councillors Guide – Paul Clayden
Local Council Clerk’s Guide – Paul Clayden
Accounting Guidance Notes for Councils – CiPFA