Last Thursday Cabinet agreed to carry out further engagement with local communities over the coming weeks to address issues raised in the first stage of the Community Governance Review – the CGR.
If you’re not aware the CGR began last December. It is the legal process through which the Council periodically reviews and makes changes to community governance. It can consider altering, removing, or creating civil parish councils – also known as town or community councils. This review followed requests from existing parish councils to review their arrangements, and following the success of the transfer of some services to town and parish councils.
The first stage took place between December and March, inviting public submissions. A total of 258 responses were received, a high proportion of which expressed concern about creating new parish councils, while others said they did not have enough information to have a view. Other responses indicated that a consultative poll should take place before a decision is made.
But the Council also received further feedback from engagement events that residents wanted to shape any future proposals, particularly in relation to the forming of new parish boundaries.
Final recommendations will not be presented to Council until November. In the meantime we are holding public meetings from next week to help residents consider the CGR and its possible outcomes against the challenging financial context we face.
Cabinet agreed that through this next stage of the process, it wants to explore giving local people more power over local services by considering the potential of creating parish councils covering the entire borough. This could potentially provide residents with more direct control over services such as street cleaning, litter and dog waste bin empting and grass cutting.
By securing a small amount of extra income from council tax payers through parish precepts, a sustainable delivery model could be secured that is prioritised locally, delivered locally, and protected for the future.
I recognise that residents need more information to understand how this might work in practice. That’s why I encourage people to attend one of the public meetings beginning next week to hear more and ask questions:
- Park South Community Centre – Mon 27 June – 7pm
- Lawn Primary School Tues 28 June – 7-9pm
- Broadgreen Community Centre – Weds 29 June – 7pm
- West Swindon Library – Tues 05 July – 6pm
- Lethbridge School Weds 06 July – 7pm
- Liden Library – Mon 11 July – 7pm
Information will also be available on the Council’s website later this week, including indicative maps showing illustrative outline parish boundaries as a starting point for discussions.
After engagement ends on 20th July, any draft recommendations would have to be agreed by Cabinet before they could go out to formal consultation during August and September. Over the coming weeks I hope residents will take the opportunity to find out more and give their views.