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Cheshire East to review governance of town and parish councils

Cheshire East Council plans to undertake a review of the governance arrangements for all town and parish councils in the borough.

Cheshire East is responsible for the governance and electoral arrangements for the 186 town and parish council wards in 135 town and parish councils, which cover the whole borough. The review will include:

● Town and parish boundaries;

● Numbers of town and parish councillors;

● Grouping of parishes; and

● Warding.

Nothing is changing immediately as a ‘community governance review’ (CGR) is a complex task and the main work will take place after the May 2019 local elections.

Any changes proposed under the CGR would follow extensive public consultation – including with town and parish councils. The aim is to complete the process well before the scheduled local elections in May 2023.

Government guidance advises that it is good practice to hold a review of town and parish governance every 10-15 years. The last was done before Cheshire East Council was created in 2009.

A multi-disciplinary team of officers has already started preparatory work and the council’s cross-party constitution committee has appointed a community governance review sub-committee to drive the process forward.

Councillor Paul Findlow, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for corporate policy and legal services, said: “Holding a review of community governance arrangements for all our town and parish councils is normal good practice and Cheshire East is ‘well ahead of the game’ in its preparedness.

“The present arrangements predate the formation of Cheshire East and we are mindful that there has since been considerable change to the population, its distribution and to the borough’s settlements.

“This review offers the opportunity to ensure that the tier of parish governance is fit for purpose for the future. Any proposed changes will be fully and extensively consulted upon to take account of the views of residents, town and parish councils and other stakeholders – and there won’t be change for change’s sake.”

Cheshire East intends to undertake initial consultation during summer 2019 on the scope of the review and topics and proposals that should be included. The council will then further consult on the actual proposals.

This review 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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