Parish types, styles, boundaries and names
A community governance review (GCR) we can look at parish governance, which can take several forms. Some areas in South Lakeland have a parish council and some have a parish meeting, whilst others are grouped under a common parish council. Parishes can also choose to adopt an 'alternative style' instead of having a council or meeting.
A CGR also allows us to look at the naming of parishes and their boundaries.
Parish and town councils
Parish and town councils are the most local form of government. Parish councils can take different forms, but they're usually made up of local people who stand as parish councillors to represent their area. They can be the voice of the local community and work with other tiers of government and/or external organisations to co-ordinate and deliver services, and work to improve the quality of life in their area.
Parish councils and town councils have the same legal powers and responsibilities. The differences are the names, and that the chairman of a town council is called a 'town mayor'.
Parish Councils are funded by local council tax payers (via South Lakeland District Council). This funding is called a 'precept', which parish councils invest in their areas to improve facilities or services.
A parish meeting is a different form of governance to a parish council.
The Local Government Act 1972 states that all parishes must hold at least one parish meeting per year. If the parish doesn't have a parish or town council, the meeting is organised by a parish meeting instead. The meeting is run by, and for, local government electors. There are no parish councillors. There are several parishes in the South Lakeland area that have a parish meeting rather than a parish or town council.
In some cases, parishes may prefer to group together to form a common parish council. Grouping can be seen as a working alliance and can be an effective way of ensuring parish government in areas where small parishes may not be viable on their own, but allows their separate identity to continue.
The parishes within the group will have a designated number of councillors, but each parish must return at least one councillor.
Grouping orders are permitted under Section 11 of the Local Government Act 1972. We note that, under the Act, smaller parishes of less than 150 electors can't form their own parish council. However it may be possible to group some parishes together to create a grouped parish council without having to change parish boundaries, create new parishes or abolish very small parishes (which may not be supported by local residents, as they may feel their parish still reflects their community identity).
The Local Government and Public Health Involvement Act 2007 ('the 2007 Act') allows parishes to choose to adopt an 'alternative style', so that instead of a parish council or town council they are called one of the following:
- a community council
- a neighbourhood council
- a village council
The 2007 Act didn't remove the style of 'town council', but if a parish has an alternative style it can't also have the status of town council and vice versa.
These councils have the same legal powers, but the differences are reflected in the names (eg 'village councillors' rather than parish councillors, or 'chairman of the community council' rather than 'chairman of the parish council').
We're not allowed to suggest to an existing parish that they should adopt an alternative style. It's up to the parish council or meeting decide whether they should resolve to adopt an alternative style. We can however, make this recommendation for a newly created parish.
For grouped parishes, the alternative styles are:
- group of communities
- group of neighbourhoods
- group of villages
Grouped parishes are allowed to adopt an alternative style when:
- a new group is formed
- a parish is added to an existing group
- a parish leaves a group
- a group is dissolved
If a group adopts an alternative style, all the parishes within it must have the same style (community, neighbourhood or village). If a parish leaves a group it must keep the alternative style it had whilst it was in the group. If a group is dissolved altogether, each of the parishes must keep the alternative style they had before they degrouped.
Parish boundaries reflect the areas between communities with low populations, or pronounced physical barriers (such as rivers and mountains), or man-made features (such as railways and motorways). It's possible these barriers can result in residents on either side having little in common with each other.
In normal circumstances 'natural' settlements or settlements as they're defined in the Local Plan shouldn't be partitioned by parish boundaries. If any changes are made to boundaries, we'll endeavour to select boundaries that are (and are likely to remain) easily identifiable.
During the Community Governance Review we can make recommendations as to whether the geographical name of a parish should change or stay the same.
We'll endeavour to ensure that the names of parishes reflect existing local or historic place names, and we'll consider any ward names proposed by local interested parties. We'll be mindful of Section 76 of the Local Government Act 1972 regarding the naming of parishes, along with Sections 87 and 88 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.