What The Town Council Does
Leominster Town Council is a parish council, consisting of a Chairman (The Mayor) and fifteen other councillors. It is an elected tier of local government with legal existence of its own. It is often referred to as the grass roots level in the hierarchy, where councillors are most “in touch” with the electorate. The Town Council plays a vital part in representing our community and improving the quality of life and local environment. It can influence other decision makers and can deliver services to meet local needs.
Leominster Town Council has been serving the local community since 1974. The structure of local government has changed significantly in Herefordshire since that time. In 1974 there was Leominster Town Council, essentially the parish council of the area; Leominster District Council, which provided a range of services including planning, residential waste collections and highways; and Herefordshire & Worcester County Council, which was responsible for education, strategic highways and planning matters. In 1998 a unitary authority was created for Herefordshire, which saw the demise of all the district and borough councils and created a two tier local government structure of Herefordshire Council and town/parish councils. Leominster District Council ceased to exist and all its responsibilities, properties and services were transferred to Herefordshire Council.
Following the Local Government restructure, Leominster Town Council remained as it was, delivering a small range of services such as allotments, the Lengthsman and P3 scheme, maintenance of the Priory Churchyard and overseeing the civic role of the town. In 2010 the coalition government was elected and a range of on-going austerity measures were introduced. This resulted in significant savings targets having to be met by Herefordshire Council. By 2020 Central Government aims to reduce its grant funding to Principal Authorities to zero. In place of this funding, Herefordshire Council will retain all the business rates generated in the County. This level of reduction has inevitably required Herefordshire Council to reduce staff and reduce funding to its services, all of which has affected service delivery and availability. In order to ensure that not all services were lost, Leominster Town Council took responsibility for delivering a number of those services. The Town Council carried out a public consultation in December 2015 and received broad public support for its planned increase in responsibilities and liabilities.
Since the beginning of 2015 Leominster Town Council has taken over responsibility for the following services:
• The Friday market and other specialist markets;
• Street cleaning, normally undertaken three times a week;
• Watering of the Leominster in Bloom displays in the town centre;
• The management of the public conveniences in Central car park and The Grange;
• The management of the open spaces at The Grange, Sydonia, Pinsley Mead and Ginhall Green. This includes grass cutting, litter bin emptying, general litter picking and play area maintenance of four play areas;
• Leominster Tourist Information Centre
Due to the significant increase in the Town Council’s role in delivering and managing services for and on behalf of the community, it has developed a Corporate Plan which outlines its role, vision, aims, objectives and plans for the next three years until the elections in 2019. The aim of the Plan is to set out the Council’s core values and strategies. The Town Council will revisit and update the Plan annually. The vision will be reviewed periodically as the local government operating environment and the economic situation are constantly changing, and the Council itself is growing and developing. In agreeing the Council’s vision, Councillors considered the fundamentals of why the Council exists and ultimately what the Council can effectively achieve, protect and deliver. The Corporate Plan is a working document, which is assessed on an annual basis and provides the monitoring framework of the Council.
The Town Council's Vision
“To work together with all sectors of the community to promote the social, environmental and economic wellbeing of the people of Leominster so that it is an even better place to live, work and visit.”
The Town Council's Mission Statement
Leominster Town Council is committed to improving and enhancing the Town of Leominster in a sustainable manner, having regard to the identified needs and wishes of all sections of the community. The Town Council will examine in detail its responsibilities, review them and set a viable and achievable development plan for the future.
The Town Council will continue to strive to make significant improvements within the local community by working closely, and in partnership, with other organisations. These organisations are key contributors and represent the diversity of the local community. They include the voluntary, business and public sectors. The Town Council also works closely with the market towns in Herefordshire and is developing links with neighbouring parish councils, which will be of benefit to Leominster. Local authorities now have a duty to promote the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of their areas and this enables Leominster Town Council to be much more responsive to the community’s priorities.
The core values in pursuing the Town Council’s vision are:
Leominster Town Council will deliver services to meet the needs of its residents that are:
• High quality, value for money and affordable;
• Targeted to meet specific requirements where possible;
• Delivered in a fair, consistent and non-discriminatory manner and fully embracing equal opportunities;
• Planned within properly managed capacity and resources, coupled with a regime of continuous improvement.
Test of Competency
Leominster Town Council will measure its competency by:
• Regular and focused reviews of all its services.
• Regular customer and resident consultation and satisfaction surveys.
• Regular reviews of performance and management of progress against targets and achievements.
• Regular monitoring of complaints.
Functions and Activities
Leominster Town Council recognises that:
• The legitimacy and integrity of the Council’s functions is derived from understanding the needs of the Town, socially, economically and environmentally as well as the needs, requirements and aspirations of its residents, customers and service users.
• Consultation, participation and engagement in partnership with the town and the county are at the heart of understanding area and community needs and will help to focus the direction of Council’s functions and activities.
• Having direction and an infrastructure will help the Council to achieve all its aims and objectives.
• The importance of having defined roles and responsibilities for Councillors and Officers and appropriate structures in place, which will make use of limited resources, will allow challenge and change and promote a strong and sustainable partnership between Councillors and Officers.
Powers and Duties
All parish councils have powers granted by Parliament, including the authority to raise money through taxation. Leominster Town Council raises its money through Council Tax, via an annual precept to Herefordshire Council. Parish Councils have a range of powers available to them permitting them to spend public money, some of which are listed below.
A parish council has a duty to provide allotments, if there is a proven demand, and it has power to improve and adapt land for doing this. Leominster Town Council has provided 98 allotments for its residents and it has a thriving allotment community at the Ginhall Lane site.
Some other useful powers available to us are:
- To be notified by Herefordshire Council, on all planning applications.
- To provide and maintain bus shelters and public clocks
- To maintain closed churchyards (Leominster Town Council has responsibility for the Priory Churchyard)
- To install and maintain equipment and establish a scheme for deletion or prevention of crime. Town Council makes an annual contribution to the CCTV scheme set up and monitored by Herefordshire Council. We also have close links with our local Police and try to work together to fight crime in our town.
- To light roads and public places, provide litter bins and cycle racks, seats and shelters. (Whilst Herefordshire Council's Highways and Transportation Services have taken responsibility for these items, Leominster Town Council will advise on sites and locations and may purchase some of the equipment, when necessary).
- To plant trees and lay out and maintain grass verges.
- To provide buildings for public meetings. (Leominster Town Council provides a substantial annual grant towards the running of Leominster Community Centre).
- To provide public conveniences (Leominster Town Council provides public conveniences at Central Car Park and The Grange. Herefordshire Council provide and maintain the toilets at Broad St car park. The toilets at the Leominster Bus Station are currently being transferred to Leominster Town Council from Herefordshire Council).
- To encourage visitors and tourists. (Leominster Town Council runs the Leominster Tourist Information Centre at 11 Corn Square in Leominster).
- To contribute financially to traffic calming schemes.
- To maintain memorials, such as war memorials.
- To acquire, maintain and provide cemeteries and burial grounds.
- To provide grants to community organisations including the Citizens Advice Bureau, Leominster Festival, Leominster Museum etc.