Introduction to the Community Governance Review
What is a Community governance Review?
A Community Governance Review is the process used to consider whether existing parish arrangements should be changed in any way. This includes:
- Altering the boundaries of existing parishes;
- Changing the names of existing parishes;
- Creating a new parish or abolishing an existing parish;
- Creating or abolishing parish councils;
- The electoral arrangements for parish councils (including the number of councillors and arrangements for parish warding);
- The grouping or de-grouping or parish councils (and consequential changes to their electoral arrangements);
- The ‘style’ of a parish (enabling an area to be known as a town, community, neighbourhood or village rather than a parish)
Who is carrying out the review?
Stroud District Council is statutorily responsible for carrying out the review. The conduct of the review will be overseen by the Council’s Community Governance Review Members Group, which includes councillors from all political groups. Formal decisions as to the terms of reference for the review and the recommendations arising from the review will be made by full Council.
What is the area under review?
The whole of the Stroud District is included in the scope of the Community Governance Review. However, we are particularly keen to hear from local people and parish councils with proposals as to where and how they believe parish arrangements should be reviewed.
Why is the Council carrying out a community governance review?
In 2016, the Local Government Boundary Commission for England made changes to a number of district wards which resulted in a small number of anomalies in the relationship between the district wards and parish boundaries. A Community Governance Review provides the opportunity to consider whether changes should be made to parish arrangements in response to these and other issues raised by local people. It is intended that any new parish arrangements will take effect at the May 2020 local elections.
Furthermore, the statutory guidance indicates that it is good practice to review community governance arrangements every 10-15 years.
How will the review work?
We are carrying out two phases of consultations on parish arrangements in the Stroud District. The first phase of consultation asks for proposals on changes to existing parish arrangements. We will then use all responses received during this period of consultation to draw up draft recommendations for changes to parish arrangements in the district. We will then hold a second phase of consultation on these draft recommendations, during which time we will invite comments and any proposed alternatives to the areas where we have recommended a change.
- The first period of consultation will take place from Monday 3 September 2018 to Monday 26 November 2018.
- Following the close of the first period of consultation, the draft set of recommendations will be published on Monday 18 February 2019.
- These draft recommendations will then be the subject of a second period of consultation, which will run from Monday 18 February 2019 to Monday 6 May 2019.
- Following the end of the second period of consultation, all comments received will be considered against the draft recommendations. The final set of recommendations will then be submitted to full Council in July 2019.
- It is intended that the final recommendations, which will include any changes to the current parish arrangements in the Stroud District, will be implemented in time for the May 2020 elections.
The Council will make a Reorganisation of Community Governance Order in order to implement these recommendations. Such an Order may cover ‘consequential matters’ required to give effect to the Order, such as the transfer of property or other assets, the setting of precepts for new parishes and staffing matters.
What matters will the review focus on?
The final recommendations made at the end of the review will seek to ensure that community governance across the district:
- Reflects the identities and interests of the community in that area
- Is effective and convenient
When responding to the consultation on parish arrangements, you should ensure that your proposal takes account of these two criteria.
The Council also has to take into account other arrangements for community representation or engagement in the area.
In considering the electoral arrangements of the parishes in its area, the Council is required to consider any change in the number of distribution of electors which is likely to occur in the period of five years beginning with the day the review starts.
Unlike the Local Government Boundary Commission for England’s review of district ward arrangements, there is no provision in legislation that each parish councillor should represent (as nearly as possible) the same number of electors. However, the government guidance reiterates the Commission’s belief that it is not in the interests of effective and convenient local government to have significant difference in levels of representation between different wards in the same parish. Additionally, any recommendations made by the review must adhere to the legal minimum number of parish councillors for any parish council, which is five. There is no legal maximum number of parish councillors.
Who will we consult?
The Council is required to consult with local government electors living in the Stroud District as well as any other individuals and organisations (including local authorities such as parish councils) who ‘appear to have an interest in the review’.
The Council must take into account all representations that it receives during the review’s periods of consultation and will make all representations available for public viewing.
How will we consult?
We wrote to all parish councils and identified umbrella organisations (including Gloucestershire Association of Town and Parish Councils) before the start of the first period of consultation, inviting them to submit their views. The same process will be followed with the second period of consultation.
We have also publicised the review on our website through our internal communication channels and on our social media platforms to engage with residents, community groups and other stakeholders and will do so again for the next consultation period.