|The book include all relevant information for the running of a local council|
The Department for Communities and Local Government ran a consultation on the process of setting up new town and parish councils that closed in January 2013. The results of this consultation were published in September.
- amending existing guidance;
- changing the law;
- making it easier for neighbourhood forums (used for neighbourhood planning) to start the process for creating a new parish council; or
- some combination of the above.
- limiting the time for a community governance review to twelve months from the receipt of a valid petition;
- reducing the number of signatures needed on a petition for a community governance review;
- making it easier for neighbourhood forums to start the process for setting up new parish councils; and
- amending guidance to local authorities undertaking community governance reviews to favour parish council proposals.
The community in Nunhead, Southwark have organised and successfully used the ‘community right to bid‘ part of the Localism Act 2011 to prevent their local pub from being sold to developers. It will now be run as a co-operative enterprise.
Meanwhile in Elm Park, Havering a similar 1930s pub is being sold off for development and the community aren’t happy. However, the voices there have not organised in order to use the rights the community have available to them.
The Department for Communities and Local Government recently closed a consultation on making it easier to set up new town and parish councils. The current legislative framework for this was set down in 2007. I responded to this consultation and recommended a number of amendments to existing policy, including legislative changes.
The consultation presented a number of problems that campaigners for new parish councils might encounter. These include the lengthy timescales to set up a parish council and the administrative burden. Looking at the example of Queen’s Park these two problems appear interrelated. The group started discussions to form a council in 2010, followed the relevant procedures, were successful in their efforts, but will not come into their powers until 2014.
DCLG presented three options for improving the process of setting up town and parish councils. They were keen to stress that these are not mutually exclusive and some elements of each option could be brought forward. I am of the opinion that such an approach is unnecessary to achieve the aims of the consultation.
|Campaigners may find it demanding to create a parish council|
I support amending guidance to reduce the timescales of the community governance reviews. However, without statutory compulsion there is a risk that valid proposals could still be delayed in bureaucracy. Therefore a change must be made to legislation in addition to the guidance. I also support the proposal to create an easier route for neighbourhood forums (used for neighbourhood planning) to become parish councils.
The proposal to reduce the scope of the community governance reviews might have some unintended to consequences in Greater London and I highlighted some other factors that might be more specific to London where there is no recent experience of parish councils. The full response is available online. About Steve Chambers
The Department for Communities and Local Government is consulting on changes to the way parish and town councils are set up in England.
Since the 2007 legislation that allowed parish councils to be formed in Greater London, a new mechanism called a community governance review has been used to create town and parish councils. This represented a devolution of power from the secretary of state to the principal local authorities.
Taking Queen’s Park as an example, the only successful parish council in London to date, it took four years from having the idea to form a council in 2010 to coming into their powers in 2014. This is partly due to electoral cycles, but also the guidance for governance reviews which allows local authorities in excess of a year to set the terms of reference and complete the review.
The governance review is only triggered once enough signatures have been collected on a petition. The consultation makes a number of suggested changes to the guidance for principal authorities and has the option of changes to legislation. The department would like responses to their consultation by 9 January 2013. About Steve Chambers