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Cheshire East moves towards finalising community governance recommendations

Cheshire East 14/02/2022

Following a 12-week consultation on proposals

Cheshire East Council is moving to the next phase of finalising recommendations for the governance arrangements for town and parish councils in the borough.

It follows a 12-week consultation on proposals developed under a comprehensive community governance review. By the end of the consultation, on 28 November 2021, the council had received more than 4,800 responses. 

The views of all consultee respondents and key stakeholders are being considered alongside a range of other important matters, including legislation, central government guidance and the terms of reference of the review.

Once the consultation responses have been fully examined and the implications considered, council officers will make recommendations to the council’s cross-party community governance review sub-committee on 4 April, and the corporate policy committee on 14 April. The final outcome of the review will be determined by a special meeting of full council on 27 April.

A borough-wide review has been undertaken as Cheshire East is responsible for the governance and electoral arrangements for the borough’s 186 town and parish council wards in 135 town and parish councils.

The review, which follows government and Local Government Boundary Commission for England guidance, is to ensure community governance arrangements continue to reflect local identities and facilitate convenient and effective local government.

As communities change over time, government guidance advises a review of town and parish governance every 10-15 years, to ensure the arrangements are fit for purpose. The last one was done before Cheshire East Council was created in 2009.

The review looks at a range of issues, including town and parish boundaries, numbers of town and parish councillors, grouping of parishes and warding.

The community governance review draft recommendations report made a series of draft proposals for consultation at the end of last year, beginning with parishes where no changes are being proposed, to other relatively minor proposals, and, finally, to more significant area or boundary changes – largely adjoining the borough’s urban parishes – which have a knock-on effect for surrounding parishes.

This consultation stage provided people and stakeholder bodies with an opportunity to make the case for alternative proposals or to endorse the draft proposals as they were.

This review, including the extensive consultation and engagement with stakeholders, is an opportunity to ensure that town and parish arrangements meet local needs and are fit for purpose for the future.

A multi-disciplinary team of officers has been working on the review since 2019 and members of all the council’s political groups will be involved in making decisions on future governance arrangements for the borough’s town and parish councils.

Cheshire East undertook an initial pre-consultation survey between October 2019 and February 2020 on the scope of the review and topics and proposals that should be included. Last June, a meeting of full council agreed to have a public consultation on the proposals.

There will not be any change for change’s sake, and nothing is decided. Any changes to be made would follow reflection on the responses to the consultation – including with town and parish councils and other stakeholders – and a decision by full council.

This review of community governance does not include the electoral arrangements for borough council or parliamentary seats. These would be the responsibility of Whitehall (the Local Government Boundary Commission and the Boundary Commission for England, respectively) and are not currently proposed