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Cheshire East Backs Community Governance Changes

Cheshire East Council has backed changes to the governance arrangements for town and parish councils in the borough.

The decision by full council follows more than three years of complex work and a rigorous 12-week consultation on proposals developed under a comprehensive community governance review. The review looked at a range of issues, including town and parish boundaries, numbers of town and parish councillors, grouping of parishes and warding.

By the end of the consultation process, the council had received around 5,000 responses. 

The views of consultee respondents and stakeholders were considered alongside key legislation, central government guidance and the terms of reference of the review.

This resulted in council officers making revised recommendations, which were approved by the council’s cross-party community governance review sub-committee on 4 April, and the corporate policy committee on 14 April 2022.

The review recommendations were given final approval by a vote at a meeting of full council today (27 April).

Councillor Sam Corcoran, leader of Cheshire East Council

Councillor Sam Corcoran, leader of Cheshire East Council and chair of its corporate policy committee, said: “This community governance review, including extensive consultation and engagement with stakeholders, was necessary to ensure that town and parish arrangements meet local needs and are fit for purpose for the future.

“The adoption of the review recommendations is the culmination of an incredibly complex and important project for the governance of the whole borough.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the officers and members of the cross-party community governance review sub-committee for their dedication and hard work – especially during the additional challenges of the Covid pandemic. I would also like to thank the many members of the public who contributed so much to help deliver a successful outcome of this process.

“The changes made to the proposals, following consultation, demonstrate that the council has listened.” 

The borough-wide review was 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 purpose of the review, which follows government and Local Government Boundary Commission for England guidance, was 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 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.

A multi-disciplinary team of officers has been working on the review since 2019 and members of all the council’s political groups were involved in finalising the recommendations for future governance arrangements for the borough’s town and parish councils. The revised proposals have now been approved by the council.

Full details of the changes and maps showing boundary alterations can be found here.

Cheshire East Council officers will continue to support town and parish councillors throughout the process of implementing the approved changes to local community governance arrangements.

The review of community governance did 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.