Functions of a Town Council

1.  The principal function of a Town Council is to act as an instrument of community at grass roots level and to promote and watch over the particular interests of Warwick.

It should act as a sounding board for community opinion, and in doing so focus the sense of the local community, whether in protest against, to agitation for, or act in consultation on any aspect that affects the social or environmental well-being of the Town and in doing so bring that consensus to bear on the responsible decision makers, whether they be members of a local authority or of any other agency, public or private.

2.  The other functions of a Town Council may be classified into:-

a)  The Management of Local Public Properties

Local public properties include village greens, commons, parks, playing fields, swimming pools, public halls, churchyards, war memorials and public clocks.

In Warwick the Town Council have accepted responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of the Court House, (Grade I - Listed Building of Special Interest) which is used as an administrative centre, Tourist Information Office and available for use by all local organisations for meetings, functions, etc. The Council also maintains the War Memorial in Church Street. They did attempt to retain responsibility for St Mary's Lands, known in Warwick as "The Common", but were defeated by the District Council at arbitration in 1974.

b)  The Provision of Services

Services include allotments, public lighting, footpaths, bridle ways, cemeteries and crematoria, public lavatories, car and cycle parks, bus shelters, public seats and litter bins.

Under this heading the Town Council maintains three large closed churchyards in the Town. It provides allotment sites at four locations administered by the Council providing facilities for 198 gardeners.

c)  The Encouragement of Voluntary Initiative

This includes the management or oversight of charities, grant-aid to voluntary effort, the giving or sponsoring of entertainments, arts and crafts and tourism and expenditure on many different things considered to benefit the Town. This section also includes subscriptions to organisations and bodies and provision to make and receive courtesy visits at home and abroad.

Since Warwick is an ancient town it has a great number of Charities some of which have combined to ensure greater financial ability to help deserving causes.

The Town Council also makes small grants to various voluntary organisations, provides Band Concerts and organises annual displays, Warwick in Bloom and Christmas Lights.

d)  The Defence of Local Interests

Defence includes the statutory right to see all planning applications and make recommendations on them to the District Planning Authority. Consultation prior to the making of bye-laws and the rights to represent the views of the townspeople at public inquiries and to oppose private bills in parliament.

The influence of the Council is also exerted through its District and County Councillors and through membership of National Associations.

Every three weeks the Town Council Plans Committee meets to examine all planning applications for Warwick and considers any objections from local residents before making its recommendations to the District Planning Authority. The Town Council is also consulted by the County and District Councils on structure plans for development, transportation and future strategic planning.

The Town Council appoints managers at all County Council schools in the Town and representative Governors at Warwick School and Kings High School It appoints representative Trustees to all Charities in the Town.

e)  Guardianship of Local Traditions and Rights

Guardianship of local traditions and rights is, of course, impossible if there is no truly local council to carry it out.

It is under this heading that the Town Council retains the Annual Mayor Making traditions and the celebration of Mayor's Sunday at St Mary's Church. The traditional opening of the Warwick Mop remains with the Mayor.

Similarly under this heading the Town Council retains, maintains and secures the regalia (including the Charters and Black Book), two maces, silver plate and the Mayoral Chain.

Rating and Finance

3.  The rating authority is Warwick District Council who collects rates on behalf of the County Council and Town Councils.

4.  The Town Council rate is charged to the residents of the Town only and is usually a very small percentage of the total General Rate.

5.  The precept levied by Warwick Town Council over recent years are:-

       1993        13.79       per household
       1994        15.08       per household
       1995        16.10       per household
       1996        16.50       per household
       1997        16.58       per household
       1998        16.68       per household
       1999        16.59       per household
       2000        17.14       per household
       2001        16.29       per household
       2002        19.56       per household

6.  In the current financial year, 2002 this raises a total sum of 198,650.00 and expenditure is divided as follows :-

  • Administration, salaries and general services            12%
  • Maintenance of Court House, Churchyards              43%
  • Provision of Information Services, Publicity
    and public services, including allotments                  32%
  • Maintenance of traditions, services, regalia              11%
  • Election costs                                                      2%

Electoral Representation

7.  The Town Council consists of 16 members elected from three Wards on a four yearly basis (elected May 1999), but under boundary review proposals the number of members will reduce to 15.

8.  The Mayor is elected from within the Council and to qualify a candidate must have served as a Town Councillor for at least 3 years. The Mayor is appointed for a period of at least 3 years.

The Council committees meet on two monthly cycles - some 60 meetings a year and Public Participation is welcomed.

9.  The Town Council actively encourages positive public participation in its activities and all meetings of the Council and its Committees are open to the Press and public.

10.  Details of meetings including Agenda, are published on public notice boards at the Court House, Jury Street, Warwick, in advance of meetings.

A complete list of meetings for the Municipal Year is available upon request at the Council's Information Centre. Additionally, the Council offers members of the public the opportunity to address the full Council on any subject at its bimonthly General Purposes and Council meeting. This meeting is advertised in the local press.
June 2002
Derek Mandlin--Town Clerk

Functions of a Town Council Warwick Court Leet

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