Community Governance Review consultation

What can be changed in the governance of Central Bedfordshire?

Consultation closed: 5pm, 1 February 2018

Through this review, you can suggest changes to parish councils. If you think your town or parish council could represent your community better, this is your opportunity to change it to be more reflective of the identity and interests of the community.

Like most areas, Central Bedfordshire has a growing population with more new housing being built. This will continue in the future and as such, some parishes will need to change in response to this.

As part of this review, you can suggest:

  • changing the boundaries of existing parishes
  • creating new parishes
  • merging parishes
  • grouping parishes to work together
  • changing the name of a parish council
  • changing how many councillors the parish has
  • sub dividing parishes into smaller parish wards
  • changing the parish ward boundaries in parishes that are already subdivided into parish wards

The boundaries of most parishes make sense; they represent clear community or geographical boundaries. However, there are some areas that have some strange boundaries. For example, residents who live in the same street may belong to different parishes and therefore pay different amounts of council tax, as parish councils can set their own council tax.

Creating new parishes might help to better reflect an area that has grown. Some parishes may believe it appropriate to merge with another parish or parishes. The merged parishes would then have a joint parish council, but retain their existing parish boundaries with a specific number of councillors from each parish.

It might be sensible for very small parishes to group together to share resources. For example, parishes where there are fewer than 150 electors are too small to form a single parish council. However, grouping with others could add up to 150 electors or more and therefore form a collective parish council.

In some instances, the review may also present the opportunity to reduce or increase the number of councillors, to better reflect the local population. In some parishes, particularly smaller ones, where they have not been able to attract sufficient candidates to stand for election this has led to uncontested elections and/or a need to co-opt members to fill vacancies.

It might be that a name change is seen as an important issue. There are various titles for local councils; town, community, neighbourhood, and village council. All are ostensibly the same, but it might be felt that a new name better reflects the area.

There may be a need to split boundaries into parish wards where an area is large and /or diverse. Warding a parish would enable better representation of the varied communities in the parish as each ward would have its own elected representatives.