Thursday, 8 January 2015

Making it easier to establish new town and parish councils

Liberal Democrat Communities Minister Stephen Williams today (Thursday 8 January) set out new measures that will make it easier for community groups to set up a town or parish council.

The measures include cutting red tape and removing bureaucratic burdens, people will have a greater say over what happens in their neighbourhood.

Town and parish councils allow communities to take control of local assets, deliver services in the area and influence decision-making.

The changes announced by Stephen today follow a public consultation which found that existing legislation required to set up a parish or town council often discourages local campaigners from establishing a council.

Three new measures have been developed to help cut red tape, improve the legislative process and help town and parish councils to play a stronger role in the delivery of local services.

These are:
  • lowering the threshold of signatures required to trigger a review of governance from 10 per cent to 7.5 per cent of residents
  • speeding up the process and creating greater certainty for local campaigners by shortening the amount of time the local authority can take to complete a governance review to 12 months from receipt of a valid petition
  • allowing Neighbourhood Forums to trigger a Community Governance Review for a new parish council without requiring them to submit a petition.
Stephen said:

“We want more people to have the opportunity to take control and have a greater say over what goes on in their neighbourhood.

“Parish and town councils have a crucial role to play, having both a democratically accountable voice and a structure for taking community action.

“However the current obligations can stifle local campaigns and constrain local democracy.

“That is why we are changing the rules and helping campaigners, by making it much easier to set them up so they can get on and start making a difference for their local communities.”