A review is underway of the most local level of decision-making in Chelmsford. 62% of the population across Chelmsford have a parish or town council, as well as Chelmsford City Council and Essex County Council. The other 38% do not have that very local voice.
Chelmsford City Council wants to hear your views, as part of what is called a ‘Community Governance Review’. There are two aspects to the review: (a) should the 38% without that local voice have a new community or neighbourhood or parish council; and (b) are changes needed to existing parishes.
The 38% without a community council are in the urban centre of the city. The City Council wants to know if they should have that local voice. Elsewhere, especially in areas which have seen a great deal of development, boundaries of existing local councils may need to change. For these reasons, the City Council is carrying out an initial public consultation from Monday 20 July to Friday 25 September. Have your say at www.chelmsford.gov.uk/parishconsultation.
Neighbourhood / community / parish councils are made up of councillors who are elected to serve and represent the residents of that very local level. They have two main roles: community representation and local administration. They are statutory consultees on planning matters and provide a focus for representing local issues and identity. They also work with local organisations and other tiers of local government to provide services to the local community. These can include village halls, playing fields, community grants, bus shelters, children’s play areas, allotments, events and festivals, among other things.
Parish councils are mainly funded through a very small part of your Council Tax (and also grants and fees they charge for facilities). This Council Tax amount is set by each parish council, depending on what services and facilities they want to provide.
Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Marie Goldman, said, “With new development happening across Chelmsford, it’s important we make sure everyone in Chelmsford is properly represented. We are asking you to help us ensure that our neighbourhood and parish councils are effectively representing the views, interests and concerns of the local communities they serve. If you don’t have that very local level of council, we want to take a look at whether your area would benefit from the community voice that most other parts of Chelmsford already have.”
She added, “If you want to change things, even around your own neighbourhood, it’s vital to get involved with democracy and tell those in power what you want. If you think your parish arrangements aren’t working or you need better representation, please take part in this consultation and make your voice heard.”
Give your views online at www.chelmsford.gov.uk/parishconsultation from Monday 20 July. The closing date for comments is Friday 25 September 2020. Chelmsford City Council will consider the results of the consultation and a report will be put before the Council’s Full Council in December, to decide whether to go to the next stage of the review process