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Allerdale Borough Council has received a valid petition from what we understand to be almost 30% of local government electors in the Flimby ward of Maryport Town Council, seeking a Community Governance Review with the view to establishing a separate parish council for Flimby.
As a local political party without any councillors on the council in question, we do not have a view on any of the considerations. We do, however, want as many of those affected as possible to take part in the review process.
Our survey below seeks to use the basis of the Community Governance Review, guidance from the National Association of Local Councils, our local knowledge and our interactions with electors in the area under review to inform questions we think will be useful to the review.
Where there is a reference to the boundary of Maryport Town Council, parish wards or polling districts, those can be viewed on the map here. Turn on the layer you require under Council and Democracy - 'Parishes' to see the boundary of the town council, 'Parish Wards 2019 on' to see the wards and 'Polling Districts' to see the polling districts.
Documents such as the review terms of reference and NALC guidance are provided below.
PARISH COUNCILS AND COUNCILLORS
Parish and town councils are the first tier of local government and are statutory bodies. They serve electorates and are independently elected and raise their own precept (a form of council tax). The residents of Flimby currently pay a precept on their annual council tax to Maryport Town Council of £139.87 on a Band D property (93.25 Band A:£279.74 Band H)
There are 9,000 parish and town councils in England with over 30% of the country parished and nearly 100,000 councillors who serve in these councils, with over £1b being invested into their communities every year.
Local councils work towards improving community well-being and providing better services. Their activities fall into three main categories: representing the local community; delivering services to meet local needs; striving to improve quality of life and community well-being.
Through an extensive range of discretionary powers local councils provide and maintain a variety of important and visible local services including allotments, bridleways, burial grounds, bus shelters, car parks, commons and open spaces, community transport schemes, community safety and crime reduction measures, events and festivals, footpaths, leisure and sports facilities, litter bins, public toilets, planning, street cleaning and lighting, tourism activities, traffic calming measures, village greens and youth projects.
Parish councillors are unpaid and are elected every four years, with every town and parish council in Allerdale up for re-election in 2023.
The review will consider:
The electoral ward boundaries of Maryport Town Council
The electoral arrangements of Maryport Town Council in respect of the number of councillors representing each ward
Whether to establish a separate parish council for Flimby, and the electoral and all other arrangements of a new parish council
Allerdale Borough Council state that "local government electors for the area under review and any other person or body who appears to have an interest in the review will be consulted on the proposals and their representations will be taken into account as part of the review."
The Council must have regard to the need to secure that the community governance arrangements for the area reflect the identities and interests of the community in the area and are effective and convenient.
Parish Governance within the Borough
Allerdale Borough Council's stated aim is "to ensure that there is clarity and transparency to the area that the Town Council represents and that the electoral arrangements are appropriate, equitable and readily understood by the electorate."
In its White Paper, Strong and Prosperous Communities, the Government emphasised that “Ultimately, the recommendations made in a community governance review ought to bring about improved community engagement, more cohesive communities, better local democracy and result in more effective and convenient delivery of local services.”
How does Allerdale Borough Council propose to conduct consultations during the Review?
The following is taken from the Community Governance Review Terms of Reference published by Allerdale Borough Council.
"In arriving at its recommendations in a review, the Council will need to take account of the views of local people. The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 requires the Council to consult the local government electors for the area under review and any other person or body who appears to have an interest in the review and to take the representations that are received into account by judging them against the criteria in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.
The Council will consult in an appropriate manner within the review area ensuring that those affected are given the opportunity to respond. In accordance with the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, representations received in connection with the Review will be taken into account, and consultees will be informed of the outcome of the Review.
Any decisions made and the reasons for those decisions will be published following the review. The mechanism for this will be through the Council’s website, the Town Council’s website, issuing press releases, personal communications where appropriate and through posting notices within the area affected by the review.
THE CURRENT COUNCIL
Maryport Town Council currently encompasses Maryport Town and Flimby. It has about 8100 electors across 7 wards, served by 18 councillors as follows:
|Ewanrigg||CQ1, CQ2, CQ3||1800||4|
|Netherhall||CS1, CS2, CS3, CS4||2050||4|
*Numbers are rounded using the best available information.
NALC RECOMMENDATIONS FOR LOCAL COUNCILS
The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) have made the following recommendations for local council size in their Circular 1126:
- A Council of no more than the legal minimum of 5 members is inconveniently small and the practical minimum should be 7;
- Local council business does not usually require a large body of councillors and business convenience makes it appropriate to suggest that the practical maximum should be 25.
Within those minimum and maximum limits they made the following are the recommendations about the ratio of electors to councillors:
Using those recommendations would suggest that the current Maryport council with c.8100 electors should have 16 councillors. If Flimby was to get its own parish council, with c.1250 electors it should have 8 councillors, while the new Maryport Town Council should then have 15 members. It is worth pointing out again that parish councillors are unpaid.