A Brief History of Knowlton Parish Council.

Knowlton Parish Council is a Group Parish Council consisting of 5 wards, Wimborne St Giles, Horton West, Woodlands, Chalbury and Horton East with an electorate of 1310 or 710 households represented by 13 councillors.

It was formed in November 1973 by combining the Parish Meetings of Wimborne St Giles, Woodlands, Chalbury and Horton and takes its name from the ancient settlement at Knowlton of which all that is left now is the ruined Saxon Church which is surrounded by prehistoric earthworks. The Parish consists mostly of farmland and woods with small settlements.

History of Parish and Town Councils

The origins of Parish Councils date back to the Tudor period where the church parish was charged with the responsibility of looking after the local poor and keeping the local roads in good condition. In 1601 parishes were allowed to levy a rate (property tax) to fund this. In their modern form, the civil parishes date from the 1894 Local Government Act; they were created to reinvigorate local communities. They remain largely unchanged as they have escaped many of the changes imposed by central government on other layers of local government since then.

Town and Parish Councils are funded solely through Council Tax ('The Precept') and from income from any services they provide. They do not receive any direct Government funding or business rates.

Just like the County Council and District and Borough Councils they are run by councillors elected by the electors of the area. Elections are held every four years. If not enough people stand for election, the council may co opt people to fill any vacancies. They may also co-opt people to fill vacancies which occur between elections if there is only one candidate for the vacancy.

Parish Councils appoint a Clerk (paid but often part time) to advise them, to carry out and record the council's decisions and to act as the 'Proper Officer'. Councils have to meet at least four times a year, including the Annual General Meeting and the Parish Meeting, where they can be questioned by local electors. Their meetings must admit the public although for certain restricted items they may exclude them.