The Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) has published a discussion paper, setting out proposals that are intended to make it easier to set up new town and parish councils. The discussion paper says that any changes to the process should strike a balance between making it simpler to set a new council up and ensuring that any new parish council has the support of local people. The discussion paper has grouped a number of changes into three options for the sake of simplicity. However, it says that elements of the options are interchangeable and they are not in opposition to each other.
The three proposed options are:
- Amending existing guidance. This option proposes that options to the existing system should be made through statutory guidance issued by the Secretary of State.
- Changing the law. This option proposes: changing the threshold for a petition for a community governance review; limiting the scope for the local authority’s consideration of the issues in a community governance review; and shortening the timetable for a community governance review, and linking the timetable more clearly to the electoral cycle.
- Making it easier for neighbourhood forums to start the process for creating a new parish council. This option proposes that a neighbourhood forum could submit an application to trigger a community governance review, rather than having to submit a petition. The existing process of a petition would remain for areas without a designated neighbourhood forum.
The consultation closes on 9 January 2013. A copy of the discussion paper is available at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/parishdiscussionpaper