Your local council
St Asaph has 14 elected city councillors. The city council is divided into two geographical areas called wards – for St Asaph we have the East and West wards.
Every year one councillor is elected by the other city councillors to be the St Asaph City Mayor to act as the civic head and first citizen of the city.
City councillors are volunteers and do not receive any payment or allowance for their work.
They are bound by a code of conduct which requires them to act selflessly, objectively, within the law and give assurance for the proper use of public funds and assets.
Councillors meet once a month to discuss business at its main meeting. However in addition some Councillors sit on a number of smaller task related Sub-Committees which meet on an ad-hoc basis to carry out more specific and often in-depth areas of work.
Benefits of a City Council
Why have a City Council at all?
The independent research study carried out by Aberystwyth University in 2003 concluded that “the benefits of community and town/city councils outweigh the associated costs and that there is a strong argument for the establishment of community councils in all parts of Wales.” The study identified 8 key benefits of community councils:
Local Responsiveness: On average there is one community or town/city councillor for every 250 residents in those parts of Wales with local-level councils, compared with one county or county borough councillor for every 2,320 residents across Wales. Most members of community and town councils live in the communities they serve and many councils also engage with local residents through surveys, newsletters and public meetings. As such community and town/city councils can be more responsive than higher tier authorities to community needs and interests, and to the diversity of interests and needs within a community.
Representation of Local Interests: Community and town/city councils can act as a vehicle for the representation of local interests to external bodies. Whereas principal councils have to balance the competing needs and interests of the many communities across their territory, community and town councils have a responsibility for a single community and are able to be uninhibited in advocating the interests of that community.
Mobilisation of Community Activity: Community and town/city councils exist at a scale that reflects people’s patterns of social interaction and their identification with place. They can therefore act to facilitate community activities, organise and sponsor community events and promote community spirit and inclusiveness. Community and town/city councils play a vital role in supporting local clubs and organisations. Collectively they donate over £1 million in grants to community groups, sports clubs, charities and other voluntary sector organisations each year – funds that are not available in communities without councils.
Additionality: Community and town/city councils can provide additionality to the services and facilities operated by county and county borough councils. They have the flexibility to enhance service provision in the community, or to provide additional services, facilities or even simple features such as floral displays, that may lie outside the principal councils’ budgetary priorities.
Accountability: The authority of community and town/city councils comes from their electoral mandate. Unlike the officers of non-statutory community associations, community and town councillors are accountable to the local electorate and may be removed at election time. Furthermore, they are accountable to the whole community, not to a paid-up membership, and therefore have an incentive to engage with and represent all sectors of the community, not just those most predisposed to join local societies.
Stability and Continuity: The statutory constitution of community and town councils gives them a relative security of existence. Unlike non-statutory community associations, they are not dependent on recruiting members or securing a continuity of funding from grant-making bodies. This means that community and town councils can plan on a longer-term basis and have more capacity to take on larger-scale projects.
Tax-raising Powers: The ability of community and town/city councils to precept the council tax is one of their most significant powers. Whilst they may be restricted in accessing funds in other contexts, the ability to precept provides a relative stability of income (again supporting long-term planning) and a means of raising funds from the community for reinvestment in the community for communal benefit.
Promotion of Public Service: Participation as a community or town/city councillor more substantially engages an individual in public service in local government than participation in a non-statutory community association. Community and town/city councils can provide a ‘training ground’ for individuals who may subsequently progress to serve as county or county borough councillors, or to stand for higher political office.
The City Council meet at least once a month (except August) to discuss a variety of topics relevant to the interests of the city. The City Council prides itself on conducting its business in an open and transparent manner. It makes its agendas and minutes available at the public library and the public can attend meetings.
Published and Audited Accounts
All Community Councils in Wales are subject to an annual external Audit. During this process the accounts are available for public inspection. The Council also engages an independent internal auditor to strengthen its accountability to the public.
Does the Council give Value for Money?
The Council manages its finances carefully and considers that it provides value for money to its citizens. For 2013/14 the Precept via the local Council Tax is the equivalent of £37.87 for a Band D property and this equates to only 73 pence per week per household.
What does the Town Council do?
The St Asaph City Council’s principal role is to represent the views of its residents, businesses and other organisations in St Asaph and it does this by regularly debating issues at its meetings.
It considers matters referred to it by the Welsh Assembly, Denbighshire County Council, other public agencies, local organisations and members of the public. Sometimes these are issues on which it must express a view by law e.g. planning matters but at other times it is consulted because of its importance to issues in the city for example on a future tourism strategy, or a proposal to change the traffic management in St Asaph.
Set out below are some typical issues discussed by the City Council
- Planning Issues
- Review of condition of the Common and other assets
- City Plan
- Receive reports from the police on their work in the community
- Receive reports from West and East Ward County Councillors
- Participatory Budget
- Various issues that may arise during the year
- Responding to issues raised in correspondence from people in the community.
- Discussing various events to be arranged during the year e.g Party in the Street, Summer Fair.
What It Doesn’t Do!
The City Council is limited in what it can do by law. It does not have the extensive powers of the Denbighshire County Council which is the principal authority responsible for delivering most of the essential day to day services within the city. Please refer to the Denbighshire County Council Web Site for more information.
Denbighshire County Council works with other major public sector organisations to deliver Health, Public Protection, Further Education and Environmental services in the area and has formed a Local Service Board to facilitate this.
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