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Have Your Say and help shape Eden’s parishes for the future

Eden Community Governance Review logoThe people of Eden District are being asked to ‘Have Their Say’ about how the services that are delivered most locally in their communities are governed, by completing a questionnaire available at www.eden.gov.uk/communitygovernancereview

The public consultation which starts on Thursday 16 November 2017 is part of a Community Governance Review being carried out by Eden District Council. 

Eden District Council’s Deputy Chief Executive, Matthew Neal, who is overseeing the Review said: “A Community Governance Review is all about making sure that the way Town and Parish Councils and Parish Meetings are structured is working properly. The process is an opportunity for people to tell us about how the services provided in their community are managed and whether their community is adequately represented.

Councillor Douglas Banks and Deputy Chief Executive Matthew Neal launch the Community Governance Review“Town and Parish Councils and Parish Meetings play a crucial role in delivering local services and representing their communities, especially in rural areas. Their governance arrangements are usually reviewed every 10 years, but this process has not been carried in Eden since the District Council was established in 1974. As legislation such as the Localism Act 2011 and the Transparency Code impacts on councils, now is a good time to make any changes before the local elections in 2019.

The Role of Parish/Town Councils

In Eden District, there are three levels of local authority:

  • Cumbria County Council
  • Eden District Council
  • 53 Town/Parish Councils and 19 Parish Meetings.

Parish/Town Councils have a number of powers, these include:

  • Providing allotments, let grazing rights and maintaining open spaces;
  • Providing cemeteries, maintaining monuments and memorials;
  • Providing bus shelters, benches, community centres and village halls;
  • Helping prevent crime and disorder;
  • Making dog control orders;
  • Maintaining footpaths and lighting roads/public spaces;
  • Providing public toilets and litter bins;
  • Statutory consultee on planning applications;

Eden District Council is also consulting parishes on devolving services, so parishes could consider whether grouping together might help to share knowledge or reduce costs when taking on services such as footway lighting, public toilets and/or grass cutting.

Parish Meetings

Parish meetings cover areas with a smaller population of 150 electors or less. They have no elected Councillors, instead local people choose a Chairman. The powers of Parish meetings are limited, but include being statutory consultees for planning applications and certain licensing matters. Their powers include:

  • Management of allotments
  • Bus shelter provision
  • Acting as the local burial authority
  • Appointment of trustees to parochial charities
  • Lighting of roads and other public spaces

A Parish Meeting also has the power to raise a precept to support these functions.

Community Governance Review what can it do

The purpose of the community governance review is to consult with residents and Parish/Town Councils to see if any new councils need to be created, or if existing ones need to merge, be altered or abolished or vice versa. It maybe that a local community wishes to increase the number of Councillors who represent them if the population of the area is set to increase in the future.

Smaller communities (less than 150 electors) may wish to convert their Parish Council to a Parish Meeting or merge with a neighbouring Parish Council for better representation. 

A Community Governance Review cannot change: 

  • The number of District or County councillors;
  • District or County Council ward boundaries;
  • The amount of money that a Parish Council raises via Council Tax;
  • Individual Parish councillors;
  • Create a unitary authority (i.e. abolish the District and County Councils and replace them with a single Council).

A cross party steering group of District Councillors is supporting the District Council’s Deputy Chief Executive to undertake the Community Governance Review. The Steering Group is Chaired by Independent Group Councillor, Douglas Banks. He said: “The Community Governance Review is an important piece of work which will help inform the future shape of local democracy in the District.

“We will be consulting with residents and Parish/Town Councils and other stakeholders between November and February 2017. The findings of the consultation will then be reported back to full Council in Spring 2018, including any recommendations for changes. If any changes are agreed, we will then work with short-listed areas to seek views about the recommendations from local parishes and residents. A final report and recommendations will then go before Members in July 2018, so an order can be agreed to make any changes to Town/Parish Councils before the local elections in 2019.

How can I get involved?

You can ‘Have Your Say’ by completing an online questionnaire by Friday 22 December 2017: www.eden.gov.uk/communitygovernancereview or by emailing: communitygovernance@eden.gov.uk or by post to Community Governance Review, Member Services, Eden District Council, Town Hall, Penrith, CA11 7QF or call 01768 817817.

Hard copies of the questionnaire will also be available from:

  • Town Hall, Penrith
  • Mansion House, Penrith
  • Penrith Library
  • Local Links Centre in Alston and Kirkby Stephen
  • Appleby Tourist Information Centre

ENDS