31st March 1998
This was the day that Herefordshire Council was formed. The old county of Hereford and Worcester (which had been introduced in 1974) was scrapped, and all the district councils, including Hereford City, within the county of Herefordshire were merged into a single local authority for the whole county. This is known as a unitary authority and remains the main provider of local government services across the county to this day, covering schools, social services, housing, economic regeneration and planning to name a few key ones.
Much of the county already had parish councils, and all the market towns were ready to become parish councils within the new county. The City Council was not and for two years it existed as Charter Trustees. This meant that it maintained the Mayor of Hereford, looked after the historic silver plate, ceremonial robes etc and carried out some purely ceremonial functions.
In 2000, the City Council was reconstituted as a parish council with the same limited powers as the rural communities and the market towns. The Queen renewed Hereford’s city charter which is why we are called the City Council, not Hereford Parish Council, although it makes no difference to our legal status.
The new City Council
At first the new city council had very restricted powers and very little resources to deliver any services. Gradually, by increasing the precept, the amount we charge council tax payers for the council’s running costs, we were able to expand, mainly through grants to other bodies. The first significant step in expanding our services was when Herefordshire Council passed the allotments to us shortly after we were “parished”. The provision of allotments is actually the only service we can be legally obliged to provide, if the people of the parish tell us to at a Parish meeting.
There is a page on the website with more details about allotments.
In 2009 the Council employed its first full time Town Clerk since it was abolished as a District Council and began to do much more. We put into place the City Plan, also known as the Community Led Plan, which enabled local people to tell us what they wanted, and for us to set about doing it. As you will see elsewhere on the website we are currently renewing that plan as it comes to the end of its life span so that once again we can be sure we are delivering the priorities the people who pay for our services want us to deliver.
In 2011 Parliament passed the Localism Act and in 2012 the government extended the Power of General Competence to parishes, provided they meet certain standards, which the City Council does. This means we can do anything that an ordinary citizen can do, as well as exercising some specific powers we need like raising our funds through the council tax. Our services currently include grants to community bodies large and small, events, allotments, responding to planning applications and working on an Area Plan for the city, supporting the business improvement district, supporting tourism, leisure, arts and cultural activities.