Cheshire East is to hold a 12-week consultation on proposals for the governance arrangements for town and parish councils in the borough.
This is part of a borough-wide review, as Cheshire East is responsible for the governance and electoral arrangements for the borough’s 186 town and parish council wards in 135 town and parish councils.
The purpose of the review, which follows Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and Local Government Boundary Commission for England guidance, is to ensure that community governance arrangements ‘continue to reflect local identities and facilitate effective and convenient local government’.
As communities change over time, government guidance advises a review of town and parish governance every 10-15 years, to ensure the arrangements are fit for purpose. The last was done before Cheshire East Council was created in 2009.
The review looks at a range of issues, including town and parish boundaries, numbers of town and parish councillors, grouping of parishes and warding.
The Community Governance Review draft recommendations report makes a series of proposals, with accompanying maps, beginning with parishes where no changes are being proposed, to other relatively minor proposals, and, finally, to more significant area or boundary changes – largely adjoining the borough’s urban parishes – which have a knock-on effect for surrounding parishes.
This consultation stage provides people and stakeholder bodies with an opportunity to make the case for alternative proposals to those now recommended.
Nothing is yet decided as a community governance review is a complex task. Any changes to be made would follow reflection on the responses to this latest public consultation – including with town and parish councils – and a decision by full council.
Councillor Sam Corcoran, chair of Cheshire East’s corporate policy committee, and leader of the council, said: “Reviewing the community governance arrangements for all our town and parish councils is normal good practice and Cheshire East has continued this vital work despite the tremendous disruption caused by the Covid pandemic. It is to our council officers’ great credit that this work has progressed in good time.
“The present governance arrangements predate the formation of Cheshire East and there has since been considerable change to the population, its distribution and to the borough’s settlements.
“This review and the proposals in the consultation offers the opportunity to ensure that town and parish arrangements meet local needs and are fit for purpose for the future.
“There certainly won’t be change for change’s sake and any changes will only be adopted after they have been extensively consulted upon to take account of the views of residents, town and parish councils and other stakeholders.
“That is why I would urge people to share their views with the council via the online consultation on our website from 6 September.”
A multi-disciplinary team of officers has been working on the review since 2019 and members of all the council’s political groups will be involved in making decisions upon future governance arrangements of the town and parish councils.
Cheshire East undertook an initial pre-consultation survey between October 2019 and February 2020 on the scope of the review and topics and proposals that should be included. In June, a meeting of full council approved the decision to take proposals to consultation.
The public consultationstarts on 6 September and can be accessed here.
The consultation ends at midnight on 28 November 2021. Paper copies of the consultation can also be obtained from local libraries.
The aim is to complete the process well before the scheduled local elections in May 2023.
This review of community governance does not include the electoral arrangements for borough council or parliamentary seats. These would be the responsibility of Whitehall (the Local Government Boundary Commission and the Boundary Commission for England, respectively) and are not currently proposed.
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