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BOURN PARISH COUNCIL

A BRIEF HISTORY


The Parish Council as we know it today was introduced by Act of Parliament in 1894 and we know from the County Archivist that Bourn was possibly the very first in this County to be established. Certainly the records show that a special Committee Meeting of the County Council was convened to set up a Parish Council in Bourn.

Historically, Parish Councils are a thousand years old (A Thousand Years of the English Parish, published by The Windrush Press e-mail: windrush@windrush press.com makes interesting reading). The word parish, it states, has two meanings: a spiritual care of a group of people and a territory with definitive boundaries.

Bourn has nine seats for Councillors and these come up for election every four years. If more than nine candidates properly qualified (e.g., age over 21, citizen of Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland or another member of the European Community and a local government elector of the parish; or occupy land or premises in the parish or within three miles of it for the previous twelve months and avoiding disqualification) are nominated, then there is an election.

Bourn Parish Council meets every month on the third Wednesday. Meetings are in the Village Hall starting at 7.30 p.m. These meetings are open to the public and generally this implies observing without interrupting. However there is a section at the beginning of each meeting when anyone may raise matters with the Parish Council. If the matter has either legal or financial implication it may need to be tabled for the next agenda however the Chairman will give guidance on this at the meeting. Residents can also write to the Clerk if they want to raise a matter.

Once a year and otherwise at the discretion of the Parish Council, Parish or Public Meetings are held. At these, members of the public have a chance to question and comment on any matter of concern. This is an opportunity for the Council to report to the Parish and explain policies.

The Parish Council is the first stage in the democratic process, and aims to care for all the affairs of the Parishand ensure that at all times, statutory requirements are met. In order to do this, close liaison is maintained with the rest of the local authorities, South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridgeshire County Council, the Environment Agency, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Water and Electricity suppliers and so on.

For the benefit of the Parishioners the Parish Council administers public funds to provide public seats, litter bins and such. It then contracts for some public services like grass cutting the playing field, open spaces (including in the case of Bourn the Church Yard) and cutting the hedge of Kingfisher Close on Caxton End. The roads, pavements, other fences, hedging and tree lopping are the duty of the County or District Council or landowner. This similarly is the case of the waterways. However the Parish Council, with a separate fund, acts as agent of the County under the Parish Paths Scheme to maintain and improve the thirty public footpaths in the parish.

Although in the past the Parish Council has invested upwards of £50,000 in maintaining the Village Hall, it is a separate charitable institution with its own constitution with a wide range of bodies on its committee, including two Parish Councillors.

The Parish Council has no power over planning in the Village but is asked to comment on proposals and to make a recommendation to the District Council on the outcome. The Parish Council considers these from the point of view of the general welfare of the village, but individuals should write direct to the Planning Department of the District Council and when possible the Council will make the plans available to residents to view. Masses of planning matters received over the last few years related to the massive development, which is Cambourne, as far as it is in Bourn. The Council ten years ago lead the consideration of the impact of this development on Bourn and presented its views to the Public Inquiry. The Parish Council will continue to monitor and respond on Cambourne's growth and development.
Residents and village groups play a large part in the development of the village in partnership with the Council.

After much work, the District Council provided the Parish with a Playing Field and a public loan has aided the extension of the sports pavilion. This is managed by agreement with the Bourn Sports Club.
The Parish Plan has already identified projects which the residents would like to see implemented over the next few years and many residents are working in partnership with the Parish Council to implement these projects.

One recalls the fathers, who built and maintained an adventure playground. Then mothers raised money for the slide and swings on the Playing Field, which still give great pleasure and outlet for energy of the young. Residents raised £28,000 to put the splendid play equipment on the Playing Field and the Parish Council added fencing and insured it all.

The parish budgets each year for the next and requires a sum of money called the precept. This comes via the District Council from the money it collects as Council Tax. This is administered by the Responsible Finance Officer, and approved by the Parish Council before strict audit by the Public Auditor. Therefore, the Councillors after all their effort and unpaid service, are very sad when vandalism destroys public property, doubling the cost and effort to restore. Remember that it's your money that is at risk.