Community Governance Review of parishes 2021

We are undertaking a Community Governance Review.

Contents

- Governance arrangements at parish level

- What can the Community Governance Review change?

- Why has Uttlesford District Council decided to undertake a review now?

- How does the Community Governance Review work?

- Consultation process

- Next actions

 

This provides an opportunity to review and make changes to governance arrangements at parish level. This is to ensure they are working as efficiently and effectively as they should be. It also ensures that they are reflective of the identity and interest of local communities. We will work closely with local councils and parish meetings and with the Essex Association of Local Councils (EALC) as part of this review.
 

Governance arrangements at parish level

Local councils are the first tier of local government. They play a vital role in engaging with local people and helping to shape their communities. Uttlesford has 55 civil parishes, of which 51 have their own governance body - parish or town council.

For convenience, they are generally referred to as "local councils" or "parish councils."

The four areas that do not have governing body (parish council) are:

  • Chickney
  • Lindsell
  • Strethall
  • Wicken Bonhunt

Parish meetings

Parish meetings must assemble annually on some day between 1 March and 1 June and on one other occasion during the year. Their meetings are open to the public, but only registered electors for the parish can speak and vote on any proposal. A parish meeting is not a corporate body. A Parish meeting is unable to own property, sue, or be sued. It is not a local authority. Its powers are not as wide as those of a parish council. The above four parish areas have parish meetings, which consist of the local government electors for the parish themselves.

The Local Government Act 1972 states that "for every parish there shall be a parish meeting for the purpose of discussing parish affairs and exercising any functions conferred on such meetings by any enactment..." Section 13 of the Act states that "the parish meeting of a parish shall consist of the local government electors for the parish".

A parish meeting is a public body exercising public functions and as such any decision, action or failure to act in relation to the exercise of its public function is capable of being judicially reviewed.
 

Parish councils

Parish councils are required to hold at least four meetings each year which are open to the public, one of which must be an Annual Meeting of the full council. Parish councils have certain powers and responsibilities under statute including, for example, the maintenance of community buildings. They usually employ a Parish Clerk and/or other staff to carry out these duties. They also have power to raise money (a 'precept') through the local Council Tax and have a duty to provide accounts.

Uttlesford District Council arrange and run any elections (held every four years at the same time as District Council elections) and by-elections on behalf of parish councils.

Askyourcouncil.uk explains more about parish meetings and parish polls.

 

What can the Community Governance Review change?

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

It can make changes to parish areas - including:

  • changes to boundaries between parishes
  • mergers of two or more parishes 
  • creating a new parish out of part of one or more existing parishes

It can make changes to electoral arrangements within parish areas - including:

  • changes to the number of parish councillors, to increase or decrease its membership
  • introducing or changing parish warding arrangements, such as to ward or de-ward an area

It can accommodate changing the name of a parish

It can accommodate the grouping together of parishes under a common parish council

 

Why has Uttlesford District Council decided to undertake a review now?

It is many years since a full review of community governance arrangements took place across the district. Since then many towns and villages have grown. Some of these developments have crossed parish boundaries or have created new communities with their own local identity.

The role of parish and town councils has also developed significantly since over the last 20 years. The government sees Community Governance Reviews as an opportunity to ensure communities have effective community governance in place, with parish and town councils that can effectively make use of their new powers and responsibilities.

Uttlesford District Council has to ensure that community governance arrangements are:

  • Reflective of the identities and interests of the community in that area
  • Effective and convenient (this relates to the ability of parishes to provide services for its residents).

Any proposed governance arrangements will need to be considered in that light.
 

How does the Community Governance Review work?

Under the Local Government and Public Health Involvement Act, 2007  Uttlesford District Council is responsible for carrying out Community Governance Reviews. This is in accordance with government guidance.

The conduct of the review will be overseen by Governance, Audit and Performance Committee. The meeting of this Committee on 22 October 2020 agreed to conduct the review and the Community Governance Review 2021 timetable.
 

Consultation process

Between 1 June and 30 July 2021 town and parish councils, local residents and other interested persons, groups or organisations were able to provide a submission for any particular changes (including no change) they want to make to the current governance arrangements.

Results of the consultation

The following are the comments received to the initial public consultation in accordance with first stage of the review. These will all be considered by the Governance, Audit and Performance Committee. The recommendations of this committee in response to these comments below were approved at the meeting on 28 September 2021. A Stage 2 consultation was open from 1 to 31 October and the further comments received are at the end of this table. These final comments will be discussed at the meeting on Monday 22 November 2021.

 

ForenameSurnameAddressI wish to make comments on the following parish(es)My comment relates toPlease give your reasons for your choicesNotes and supporting documents
IanBrown72 St Edmunds Fields, Dunmow, CM6 2ANParish of Little EastonMaintain the status quoSix councillors sharing the workload / representation seems to work for this community 
StephanieGillBower House, High Street, Clavering, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11 4QRParish of ClaveringReduce the number of elected councillors from 11 to 9.As a serving councillor since 2011 this is my opinion as the council has not been at full quota for some years. 
PennyMcCulloughPoplar Lodge, Newmarket RdParish of Great ChesterfordJoin to CambridgeThe vast majority of people in this village on the very border of the two counties work in Cambridge. Our nearest A&E, major retail and leisure facilities are all in Cambridge and we are significantly impacted by South Cambs planning policies but without any way of responding as we fall under Uttlesford. Commuter Train routes join us to Cambridge in 11 minutes or are headed to London, neither of those cities are in Essex. It would make more sense for the Parishes of Great & Little Chesterford to join the county of Cambridgeshire rather than remain the northern border of Essex. 
anonanonanonParish of BroxtedParishMolehill Green should come under Broxted Parish Council instead of Takeley. Broxted are the direct neighbour and are more concerned with small village / hamlet life. Takeley is now becoming a huge district and the council simply aren't giving enough focus to their smaller areas. 
JaneGuyWarren Farm, Wenden Lofts, Saffron Walden CB11 4UWParish of Elmdon and Wenden LoftsChange of parish nameThe comments relate to the change of name of the parish council and the question of warding - these comments are on behalf of the Elmdon and Wenden Lofts Parish Council.Icon for pdf Letter from Elmdon and Wenden Lofts Parish Council [3.82MB]
Allison WardHigh Easter Parish ClerkPeartree Cottage, Slough Road, High Easter, Chelmsford Essex CM1 4RDParish of High EasterNo change to current arrangementsAgreed by High Easter Parish Council at their meeting on Monday 7 June 2021 
JaneDellerOakfield House, Strethall, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4XJParish of StrethallRe-align the parish boundary with an adjoining parishI wish for Strethall Parish to remain a separate parish meeting and not be incorporated to any neighbouring parish council. 
RichardCrossThe Yardhouse, Strethall, CB11 4XJParish of StrethallCreation of a parish council

I strongly maintain that Strethall should remain as a separate parish and not be amalgamated with another parish, as has been suggested is a possibility. It is of a very different nature to any of its neighbours and has different concerns and priorities as a result, which makes its needs unlikely to be recognised if subsumed in another. We have the ability to affect our own locality, generally with consensus, which is important to us.

 
CWardSpringate House, Chickney Road, HenhamParish of ChickneyRe-align the parish boundary with an adjoining parishA few years ago Chickney was removed from Henham and added to Takeley in order to increase their electorate sufficient for an additional councillor, without any local consultation. We now have no vote in the community of Henham where we reside, but do in Takeley who have little interest in nor relevance to us. We have, in effect, been disenfranchised and possibly illegally so because of the lack of consultation. Please return Chickney to Henham. 
PhilippaPotter20 Gore Lane, Rayne, CM77 6TUParish of High RodingHigh Roding Parish Council is happy with the current arrangements for its boundary, membership and arrangements.It was agreed by the Parish Council that no changes were required or needed at this review. 
AnnPopeLincolns, StrethallParish of StrethallRe-align the parish boundary with an adjoining parishI strongly oppose the parish of Strethall being amalgamated with the adjoining parish. Strethall has been a separate parish mentioned in the doomsday book. It is unique in being one of the smallest parishes in England. It does not have any services provided such as street lighting, mains drainage, public transport, gas. The parish attracts tourists and walkers benefiting from its unique setting and abundant public footpaths through and around the parish. It should be preserved as the small rural tight knit community it is. Every member of Strethall attended the last parish meeting showing a commitment and evolvement with all aspects of the parish it would be unlikely that they would feel the same connection if we were to join a larger neighbouring parish. There appears to be no benefit to this community to be affiliated with a neighbouring parish and the continuation of a parish meeting would appear to be more appropriate in meeting the needs of those residing here. 
LouiseJohnsonReindeer, Stansted Road, Elsenham CM22 6LLParish of ElsenhamChanging the Parish Boundary
Elsenham Parish Council requests re-alignment of the boundary with Henham Parish Council to take account of planning application UTT/17/3573/OP for up to 350 dwellings off Henham Road, Elsenham, which was allowed at appeal in December 2020. The parish boundary cannot be located on the ground. It is evident from maps that it bisects the site in roughly equal halves between the two parishes. As the detailed planning layout will have no regard for the boundary, it is evident that some adjustment is needed, otherwise the boundary would run through properties and also through the area designated as public open space. The site as a whole is clearly most obviously related to Elsenham rather than Henham, and future residents will make use of Elsenham amenities. The neatest solution, which is supported by Henham Parish Council, is to locate the whole of the new development within Elsenham parish by re-aligning the parish boundary to coincide with the site boundary. From the north, the boundary would be moved from the eastern side of the railway to the eastern side of the new footpath link to the station; it would then follow the site boundary to the east and south until reaching the existing parish boundary; it would continue from there to the east as at present.

Copies of maps attached to the development showing the existing parish boundary and the boundary of the new development are available if required.

Louise Johnson, Clerk to Elsenham Parish Council
 
RussellPopeStrethall Parish Meeting C/O Lincolns, Strethall, Saffron Walden CB11 4XJParish of StrethallStrethall Parish governance and parish boundary remaining as it is.Strethall Parish Meeting - Submission to Parish Governance Review 26/07/2021

With 11 houses, an area of just over 600 acres and a population of 28, Strethall is possibly the smallest civil parish in England. That is surely an historical and heritage feature within UDC that should be preserved and celebrated, certainly not abolished.

In 1084 it is recorded that Strethall comprised 5 hides (600 acres), almost identical with today, and was a Berwick of Littlebury. However, by 1266 Strethall was an independent manor - an 'independence' that has lasted up to the present day.

There are benefits to Uttlesford as a District, and Essex as a County, in retaining the distinct identity of Strethall. Because the parish was contiguous with the manor for so long it has a discoverable history stretching back centuries that is remarkable and unique for its size - one that also reflects the history of this island to an extraordinary extent. Such parishes are rare, attract much attention (and tourists) and should be conserved.

At the last Parish governance review in 1983 it was held by government that very small communities such as Strethall were better served by a Parish Meeting, rather than a Parish Council. Were Strethall to be subsumed into Littlebury, its 11 households might find they have no representation on the Parish Council and, even if they did, would have very limited influence. By contrast, Parish Meetings, which are held are consistently attended by a large majority of residents and at the last meeting, for example, every household was represented. This demonstrates the strength of community spirit that the Parish Meeting method of local 'governance' generates within a Parish the size of Strethall.

Strethall Parish meetings are held as frequently as necessary to comply with legislation and in some instances extra-ordinary meetings are held, as and when required, to discuss particular issues that concern residents. Even during Covid restrictions ('Zoom') Parish meetings were held via webcam.

The Chair of Strethall Parish Meeting has canvassed all the residents regarding this issue and without exception, all residents wish parish governance to remain as it is and no resident has expressed a desire for change. For the residents of Strethall, democracy is clearly best served by maintaining the present arrangement.

There can be no financial benefits nor any improvements to the representation of the people in making any alteration to the current Parish boundary of Strethall. As such, Strethall residents are of the view that it can only be administrative convenience that would prompt a change of Parish governance.

Finally, it should be noted that if Strethall were to be subsumed within Littlebury, or any other Parish, then it seems certain that Strethall residents would be required to pay a parish precept, in addition to the district and county council rates. In such circumstances, Strethall residents would expect local infrastructure to be brought to the same standard as that enjoyed by Littlebury residents, including the installation of mains drainage and street lighting.

Russell Pope
Chair, Strethall Parish Meeting
 
 
NicholasBakerHam Cottage, Woodend Green, Henham, CM226AZParish of HenhamRe-align the parish boundary with an adjoining parishA new development of 350 houses is soon to be built, with some of the development in Henham Parish and some in Elsenham Parish. The Parish boundary comes in the middle of the development. It would be more sensible for the development to be in Elsenham Parish as the development abuts Elsenham, and is some distance from Henham. The Parish boundary would be adjusted accordingly to include the whole development in Elsenham Parish. This clearly is a sensible proposal to re-align the parish boundary to accommodate housing development. Elsenham Parish Council is in full agreement. It does not affect the District Ward or County Division boundaries. 
AngelaBalcombe (Little Dunmow Parish Clerk)6 Shires Close, Great Notley, Braintree CM77 7FTParish of Little DunmowDecrease the membership of the parishLittle Dunmow Parish Council wishes to keep the number of parish councillors at 7 and not to decrease the number. 
TracyCoston33 Rivey Way, Linton, Cambridge, CB21 4LHParish of Sewards EndRe-align the parish boundary with an adjoining parishWith reference to Saffron Walden Town Councils submission relating to the UDC Community Governance Review proposing an amendment to the boundary between Sewards End and Saffron Walden.

The view of Sewards End Parish Council is that the proposed development that is driving the request should not and will not be given planning permission and therefore there is no need to amend the parish boundary.
Icon for pdf Letter from Sewards End Parish Council [97.01KB]
BelindaIrons14 Crawley End, Chrishall, Hertfordshire SG8 8QLParish of ChrishallDecrease the membership of the parishChrishall PC is having great difficulty recruiting councillors to fill its vacancies. The current number is 4 when we should have 9. We have advertised our vacancies for more than 18 months with little uptake. Reducing the number of councillors was previously raised by a parishioner, so residents appear to be of the opinion there are too many councillor seats. It is understood that NALC recommendation for a village the size of Chrishall would be 5 or 7 councillors. 
AmandaLindsell56 Wash Cottages, Thaxted Road, Debden CB11 3LSParishes of Great and Little ChesterfordRe-align the parish boundary with an adjoining parishRequest a move of our parish boundaries. This follows a planning application approved for 76 houses in the Parish of Lt Chesterford but , in fact, adjacent to Gt Chesterford.  
LisaCourtneySaffron Walden Town Council, The Town hall, Market Place, Saffron Walden CB10 1HRParish of Saffron WaldenRe-align the parish boundary with an adjoining parish and increase the membership of the parish(a) To increase the number of Councillors representing Saffron Walden . (b) To amend the SW boundary to include the potential Radwinter Road development, which currently sits in the geographical area of Sewards End Parish Council. (c) To request UDC to increase the number of Councillors representing Saffron Walden as a whole from 16 to 18 Councillors. This increase will accord with NALC's recommended ratios of 625 residents per Councillor. (d) In order to ensure best representation, UDC is requested to reconsider the existing SW ward boundaries (for the Town Council) and to reallocate to ensure the best ratio between electorates and residents. (e) To request UDC to rejoin the ward boundary of Little Walden with Castle Ward (as
proposed by UDC) in order to regain both the ratio of numbers and to ensure inclusivity into SW for those in Little Walden (f) To redraw the parish boundary line to incorporate the proposed development land off Radwinter Road. For the avoidance of doubt, this is the land which currently rests in the parish of Sewards End Parish Council and is proposed for development by Rosconn Group for circa 240 homes. It was further noted that the Town Council maintained its strong opposition and objections to development on this site but equally wished to adopt a
pragmatic approach should future planning permission be granted on this site. Council noted that whilst this development sat outside of Saffron Walden, any new residents (should
future planning permission be granted) would likely associate more with SW than Sewards End. These residents would equally create a demand on Town Council services on the basis
that residents would access the town centre, shops, services, facilities, public open spaces, community and leisure facilities.
Icon for pdf Email from Saffron Walden Town Council [240.56KB]
EmmaPhilbrick

Stansted Mountfitchet Parish Council
The Mountfitchet Exchange
Crafton Green
72 Chapel Hill
Stansted Mountfitchet
Essex CM24 8AQ

Parish of Stansted Mountfitchet

Maintain the status quo

Full Council meeting and members of Stansted Mountfitchet Parish Council are happy to stay as we are.

 

Phase 2 Consultation Responses

AllanPayneDeers Cottage, Deers Green, Clavering, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4PXClavering Parish CouncilReduce the number of elected councillors from 11 to 9.Disagree. I wish to complain about the way in which the process of the reduction of the number of Parish Councillors in Clavering has taken place. The action was taken without consultation of the Parish Council or as far as I know without any public consultation.
The case was based on lack of volunteers but I offered myself as a co-opted Councillor in August 2019 but was rejected. Thus the case for lack of Councillors is invalid. Thank you in advance for action on this information as this seems to be a general trend in the workings of Clavering Parish Council which cause me grave concern. I hope this is of help. 
 
Rod HomerHemmingford House, Deers Green, Clavering CB11 4PXClavering Parish CouncilReduce the number of elected councillors from 11 to 9.Disagree. The parish is expanding and the additional work needs to be spread across more councillors not less. Furthermore, new ideas and energy are needed to revitalise a long serving group. 
BillWainwrightElizabeth Lodge, Starlings Green, Clavering CB11 4PPClavering Parish CouncilReduce the number of elected councillors from 11 to 9.Disagree. I strongly object to reducing the number of councillors on the Clavering Parish council in my opinion the more councillors you have, the less chance decisions will be made by the few, on the node and wink system. 
RonCouchmanHigh View, Mill End, Clavering CB11 4RPClavering Parish CouncilReduce the number of elected councillors from 11 to 9.CGR Stage 2 Response.Icon for pdf Letter - Clavering Parish Councillor [1.55MB]
JessicaAshbridge

Clerk to Clavering Parish Council, Clavering Parish Council, PO Box 1376, Cambridge CB1 0GS

Clavering Parish CouncilReduce the number of elected councillors from 11 to 9.CGR Stage 2 Response.Icon for pdf Email - Clavering Parish Council [311.52KB]
LisaCourtney

Town Clerk, Saffron Walden Town Council, The Town Hall, Market Place, Saffron Walden, Essex CB10 1HR

Saffron Walden Town CouncilRe-align the parish boundary with an adjoining parish and increase the membership of the parishCGR Stage 2 Response.Icon for pdf Email - Saffron Walden Town Council [434.97KB]

 

Next actions

The decision of the committee will lead to the creation of a Re-organisation Order and a request will be made to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England for a consequential Order to district ward and county electoral division boundaries, as appropriate.

Any approved changes will take affect from the next scheduled parish council elections in 2023.

Videos