- The Council is undertaking the review to consider the establishment of town or parish councils which have the ability to raise income through the precept mechanism that is not currently subject to capping rules, which could allow for the provision of local services that Torbay Council may be unable to sustain in the future due to resource and demand pressures particularly in the statutory services of Children’s and Adult Services.
- There is an evidence base from elsewhere which demonstrates that town or parish councils can play an important role in empowering and representing communities.
- The Council notes the Government’s continued commitment to town and parish councils and its guidance that it ‘expects to see a trend in the creation, rather than the abolition, of parishes’.
- It is important that within the review, that any creation of parishes should reflect distinctive and recognisable communities of interest, with their own sense of identity and that electors should be able to identify clearly with the parish in which they are resident. This information will therefore need to be gathered as part of the review.
- The Council wishes to ensure that parishes should be viable as an administrative unit and should possess a precept that enables them effectively to promote the well-being of their residents and contribute to the provision of services in their area in an economic and efficient manner.
- The Council considers that the boundaries between parishes should reflect the distinct community identities of the respective areas. Wherever possible boundaries should follow areas of low population between settlements or pronounced physical barriers (either natural or built) such as watercourses, marshland or moorland; parks, canals, railways or major roads. Appropriate information will therefore need to be gathered as part of the review.
- The Council will give careful consideration both to traditional community identities and to any changes that have happened over time, for example population movements or new development, that may have led to a different community identity in an area.
- Should a reorganisation of parish boundaries occur as a result of the review, the Council will aim to select boundaries that are and are likely to remain easily identifiable.
- With regard to the geographical names of any town or parish councils or town wards established within Torbay, the Council believes that these should reflect existing local or historic place names and there will be a presumption in favour of names proposed by local interested parties.
The number of town or parish councillors
- When considering the number of councillors to be elected for any town or parish council, in addition to applying the statutory rules described above, the Council will have regard to:
- the recommended guidance issued by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) and indicative national data on representation published by the former Aston Business School;
- existing levels of representation, the pattern of existing council sizes which have stood the test of time and the take-up of seats at elections; and
- the desirability of a broadly equitable allocation of councillors to town and parish councils across Torbay, whilst acknowledging that local circumstances may on occasion merit variation.
- The Council notes Government guidance that ‘there is likely to be a stronger case for the warding of urban parishes … [where] … community identity tends to focus on a locality … [and] … each locality is likely to have its own sense of identity’. The Council will however seek to secure that any warding arrangements should have relevance for the electorate, be in the interests of effective and convenient local government and not be wasteful of a town or parish council’s resources.
- In reaching conclusions on the boundaries between any wards, the Council will have regard to community identity and interests and will consider whether any particular ties or linkages might be broken by the drawing of particular ward boundaries. The Council will also have regard to guidance by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) that the principal council ward boundaries should not split an unwarded parish and that no parish ward should be split by such a boundary.
- When deciding the number of councillors to be elected for any ward, the Council will take into account the view of the LGBCE that it is not in the interests of effective and convenient local government, either for voters or councillors, to have significant differences in levels of representation.
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