A weekend away – Parish meetings, expenses and merging Parishes

For only the second time this year our family has had a short break. We have been up in North Yorkshire at our usual pre-Christmas haunt of Littondale a remote part of the Dales some 15 miles north of Skipton. Our hosts Bryan and Lyn of the B&B ‘Park Bottom’ serve up excellent breakfasts and over one of these we got talking about how their small village runs. Small being the word as there are so few inhabitants that they don’t have a Parish Council but a Parish Meeting. This means that the whole community comes together around twice per year to decide local matters with the Chair and Vice Chair doing the day to day business on their behalf. Having been a Parish Councillor for some 26 years it was interesting to see how democracy works at a very local level in an isolated rural community like Litton.

Staying on the theme of Parish Councils I notice that the Aintree & Maghull Champion published a letter this week advocating the merger of Maghull Town Council with Lydiate Parish Council and Melling Parish Council with Aintree Village Parish Council on the grounds that it would save on councillors expenses. I have never been paid an allowance as a Parish Councillor and know for a fact that neither Lydiate or Maghull Councils have ever paid one. I am 99% sure that Melling and and Aintree Village Parish Councils don’t pay allowances to councillors either. I recall that the last Labour Government gave Parish and Town Councils the right to pay allowances but I have yet to come across a Council that has taken this up. Maybe the correspondent had heard about the right to pay and was assuming that all Parishes had taken it up? Whatever the case I find it rather encouraging that folks are still willing to give up their time to help run their community, by being a Parish Councillor, without the wish to be paid for it.

And finally, in that same letter to the Champion a suggestion that the new excellent Lydiate Village Centre and Maghull Town Hall could be used for a youth facilities. Well, Maghull Town Hall already is doing that via the highly successful Youth Coffee Bar. It is run by Maghull & District Youth Council with financial support from the Town Council and Youth Workers from Sefton Council. A youth facility is also being set up at the Lydiate Village Centre and at the last Parish Council meeting the President and Chair of Maghull & District Youth Council met with Parish Councillors to discuss how to take the initiative forward. The moral of this last story seems to be that these two youth facilities are not well know about by adults, then again the facilities are not aimed at them. 

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