I’ve just moved to Stewartby. What’s this PARISH thing my neighbour was on about?

Like Local, Regional Borough, County and Town councils a Parish by definition can be a district having its own church, Minister or Priest or a division of a county for administrative and local government purposes. Stewartby and Kempston Hardwick Parish (SKPC) are defined as a Civil Parish. "In England, a civil parish (CP) is a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government below districts and counties, or their combined form, the unitary authority. It is an administrative parish, in contrast to an ecclesiastical parish." - Wikipedia

Who’s responsible for running Stewartby and Kempston Hardwick Parish?

Stewartby and Kempston Hardwick Parish Council; SKPC consists of people (councillors) elected by local Parishioners who, on their behalf carryout the day-to-day administration regarding Parish matters i.e. Local Planning issues, local education issues, policing, local economy planning. Neighbourhood plan and many other issues.

How many Councillors’ are there?

SKPC consists, as of OCT 2017, a Parish Clerk who is responsible for the legalities and administration regarding the running of the Parish Council, publishing Agenda’s and Minute’s and many other things ensuring that the Council adhere to Parishioners wishes etc. A Chairman, Vice Chair and five Councillors eight people in all who carry the responsibility of running Stewartby Parish.

How much do we, the Parishioners, pay for your services?

In a Nutshell the Parish (Parishioners) pay NOTHING for the Chair, V/Chair and Councillors we all carryout our duties freely and as volunteer’s with the exception of the Parish clerk who legally has to be employed and paid for the services rendered. Current pay rates are set as a national standard and in accordance with various levels of qualifications (also a legal requirement).

I’m confused with something called “The Precept” what is it and what’s it used for?

Precept; comes from Latin meaning amongst other things “An order to Levy money under a local rating or taxation system (Chambers Dic 10th ed) residents pay a Council Tax to Bedford Borough Council (BBC), Who, twice a year reimburse SKPC with a sum of money, this money is commonly referred too as the Precept, this amount of money, small in comparison to the collected Council Tax enable SPC to manage various financial aspects of running the Parish over a year. Traditionally the precept enables payment for i.e. Parish lighting, Maintenance of village greens, verges tree’s, hedgerows, Play area’s and equipment, salt, dog and litter bins this list is not exhausted.

A relative has seen a house for sale in the middle of the village opposite the green (Stewartby Way) Being in the position to buy, a worry is that building a garage on the front of the property, wouldn’t be acceptable?

Stewartby Way by definition constitutes part of a general area referred to as the Stewartby Conservation Area (SCA) and, as such has controls on where and what can be constructed to the front and sometimes to the rear of any premises within the SCA it is highly recommended that advise be sought from Stewartby Parish Council and solicitor handling the purchase as Planning permission is required in all cases connected to the SCA, retrospective planning is rarely granted leading to the probability of financial loss on your relatives part. Permissions granted to previous structural alteration should also be checked for compliance to SCA.