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3. Community Governance Reviews

>3.1 What is a Community Governance Review?

A Community Governance Review is a way for district councils to make sure that, at parish level, governance arrangements are working as efficiently and effectively as they should be. This is achieved by asking the public, parish councils and any interested parties whether they feel their communities are suitably represented and whether parish councils would like to see any changes made to their current governance arrangements.

We have the power to undertake such reviews under Part 4 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 and the relevant national guidance document.

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.

>3.2 What can a Community Governance Review do?

A Community Governance Review can make a number of changes to parish councils when there is clear evidence to do so:

  • Creating, merging, altering or abolishing parishes;
  • Change electoral arrangements for parishes including the ordinary year of an election, number of parish councillors and changes to parish wards;
  • Convert a parish council to a parish meeting;
  • Change the name or the style of a new parish/town council or parish meeting; and
  • Group parishes together under a common parish.

>3.3 What can a Community Governance Review not do?

  • Change the number of district or county councillors;
  • Change a district or county council ward boundaries;
  • Change the amount of money that a parish council raises through your council tax (known as ‘precept’);
  • Change individual parish councillors; and
  • Create a unitary authority

>3.4 What roles do Parish Councils perform?

Parish councils are the most local form of government. They collect money from Council Tax payers (via the district council) known as a "precept" and this is used to invest in the area to improve services or facilities. Parish councils can take different forms but usually are made up of local people who stand for election as parish councillors to represent their area. They can be the voice of the local community and work with other tiers of government and external organisations to co-ordinate and deliver services and work to improve the quality of life in the area.

>3.5 What are grouped parishes??

It may best be considered as a working alliance of parishes that have come together under a common parish council, with the electors of each of the grouped parishes electing a designated number of councillors to the council. It has been found to be an effective way of ensuring parish government for small parishes that might otherwise be unviable as separate units, while otherwise guaranteeing their separate community identity.

The council recognises that the grouping of parishes needs to be compatible with the retention of community interests and notes the government's guidance that "it would be inappropriate for it to be used to build artificially large units under single parish councils." A grouping order is permitted under Section 11 of the Local Government Act 1972.

>3.6 What are Parish Wards?

Parishes or towns can be divided into wards for the purpose of electing councillors. Again, this could depend upon the size and make up of a proposed council. The government guidance requires that consideration be given to the number of and distribution of local government electors which could make a single election of councillors impractical or inconvenient or it may be desirable for areas within the town or parish to be separately represented.

The government's guidance is that "the warding of parishes in largely rural areas that are based predominantly on a single centrally-located village may not be justified. Conversely, warding may be appropriate where the parish encompasses a number of villages with separate identities, a village with a large rural hinterland or where, on the edges of towns, there has been some urban overspill into the parish."

>3.7 What is a community governance order?

The review will be completed when the council adopts a Reorganisation of Community Governance Order. The Order will specify when it will take effect for financial and administrative purposes and when the electoral arrangements for a new or existing parish council will come into force.

Copies of this Order, the map(s) that show the effects of the order in detail and the document(s) which set out the reasons for the decisions that the council has taken (including where it has decided to make no change following a review), will be deposited at the council's offices and website.

In accordance with the guidance issued by the government, the council will issue maps to illustrate each recommendation at a scale that will not normally be smaller than 1:10,000. These maps will be deposited with the Secretary of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government and at the council’s offices. Prints will also be supplied, in accordance with the regulations, to Ordnance Survey, the Registrar General, the Land Registry, the Valuation Office Agency, the Boundary Commission for England and the Electoral Commission.

>3.8 What do "electoral arrangements" mean?

An important part of our review will comprise giving consideration to electoral arrangements. The term covers the way in which a council is constituted for the parish. It covers:

  • The ordinary year in which elections are held;
  • The number of councillors to be elected to the council;
  • The division (or not) of the parish into wards for the purpose of electing councillors;
  • The number and boundaries of any such wards;
  • The number of councillors to be elected for any such ward; and
  • The name of any such ward. The government's guidance is that "each area should be considered on its own merits, having regard to its population, geography and the pattern of communities," and therefore the council is prepared to pay particular attention to existing levels of representation, the broad pattern of existing council sizes which have stood the test of time and the take-up of seats at elections in its consideration of this matter. The Aston Business School found the following levels of representation to the good running of a council:
  • Parishes wishing to increase numbers must give strong reasons for doing so. The number of parish or town councillors for each council must be not less than five but can be greater. However, each parish grouped under a common parish council must have at least one parish councillor.

>3.9 Is there an ideal size for a Parish Council?

The National Association of Local Councils provides the following guidance regarding the number of Parish/Town Councillors:





1 – 900


3501 - 4400


901 – 1400


4401 - 5400


1401 – 2000


5401 - 6500


2001 – 2700


6501 - 7700


2701 – 3500


11,800 – 13,300


Research by the Aston Business School Parish and Town Councils in England (HMSO, 1992), found that the typical parish council sizes were as follows:



< 500


501 - 2,500

6 - 12

2501 - 10,000

9 - 16

10,001 - 20,000

13 -27


13 - 31


For more information regarding Community Governance Reviews click here.

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