To receive questions from the public under Rule 10 of the Constitution
Councillor Jonathan Davies asked the following question under Rule 10 of the Council and Committee Procedure Rules:
Requests have been made to Eden Council for Community governance review by Clifton Community Council and others in Eden to review and reduce the number of seats on the respective parish councils ahead of the May 2023 election.
This in order to ensure the councils can function, be quorate and enable the councils to be able to use General power of competency to help support and deliver for our communities in a time of local government changes and transition after the May 2023 elections.
The Monitoring officer has said a proper request for CGR by the parish councils has not been received.
Eden has in the past carried out very few communities’ governance reviews however most of the reviews conducted have occurred at the request of the parish councils involved rather than via a petition for a community governance review.
Can the leader please explain why Eden council is refusing to carry out Community governance reviews when requested by multiple parish councils in Eden ahead of Local Government reorganisation?
The Leader of the Council gave the following response:
This matter is not within the remit of the Leader, however advice has been taken from the Monitoring Officer.
The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 sets out how community governance reviews can be initiated and requested. Eden District Council has received no request which amounts to an application or petition as defined under the Act. In the absence of such a request the Council is not required to undertake a Community Governance Review, nor issue a formal refusal under that Act.
In the absence of a qualifying application, the Council, as principal council under the Act, may carry out a Community Governance Review at its own discretion. However, the Council does not intend to exercise this discretionary power, having regard to the context of local government reorganisation and limited time to complete any such review in advance of vesting day and May 2023 elections.
The Council’s consideration of these factors is pragmatic and in line with guidance which notes that principal Councils should use their knowledge and awareness of local issues when deciding whether to undertake a review and have regard to instances in which a wider area of review may be more appropriate than piecemeal reviews.
Councillor Davies asked the following supplementary question:
The leader may or may not be aware that the original question put was actually heavily censored by officers at this council and included examples given of other councils going through local government reorganisation in Cumbria that are at this moment in time conducting community governance reviews such as Allerdale, Barrow has also conducted a community governance review as is Carlisle. So the leader has made a statement after the fact that because of local government reorganisation it’s not happening.
Is the leader aware of the fact that town and parish councils are facing a real issue with retaining and getting members and this failure to conduct a governance review caused severe difficulties going forward for parish councils in Eden?
The Leader of the Council indicated that a written response would be provided.