Cheshire East is urging people to have their say – and take part in a consultation on proposals for the governance arrangements for town and parish councils in the borough.
The 12-week consultation began on 6 September as 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 review, which follows guidance from central government and the Local Government Boundary Commission for England, 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 one 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 draft proposals for consultation, 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. Maps online show the details.
This consultation stage provides people and stakeholder bodies with an opportunity to make the case for alternative proposals or to endorse the draft proposals as they are.
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 I would encourage people to take part in the online consultation and share their views on the proposals.
“The current governance arrangements date from before Cheshire East Council was formed and there has since been considerable change to our settlements, the population, and its distribution. This review and consultation on proposals offer an opportunity to ensure that town and parish arrangements meet local needs and are fit for purpose for the years ahead.”
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 on 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.
There will not be any change for change’s sake, and nothing is yet decided. Any changes to be made would follow reflection on the responses to this latest public consultation – including with town and parish councils and other stakeholders – and a decision by full council.
The public consultation, which ends at midnight on 28 November 2021, can be accessed online.
Paper copies of the consultation can also be obtained from local libraries. People are urged to send in their completed paper forms as soon as possible. The aim is to complete the review 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.