Councillors call for parish split
THOUSANDS of residents in Coleview and Nythe are being urged to take up a rare opportunity to campaign to break away from the Stratton St Margaret parish and establish their own parish council.
Couns Dale Heenan and Coun Richard Hurley (both Con, Covingham and Dorcan), are delivering letters to about 3,000 homes in the areas, urging them to request the new arrangements during a consultation for a review of town parishes.
The community governance review, which only happens by law every 10 to 15 years, aims to ensure that each parish council or meeting is reflective of the identities and interests of the community, and is effective and convenient.
Coun Heenan, who is also cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, claims that residents in the areas feel poorly served by Stratton, they have a separate identity and the parish precept is too high.
“Coun Richard Hurley and I are very clear that our preferred option is to see Coleview and Nythe forming their own parish council which is locally accountable to local residents, and spends money on their own priorities, not Stratton’s,” he said.
“I have no doubt that Stratton Parish Council will be scaremongering about the effects of change, but we shouldn’t fear it. “Their very existence is now up for question. Parish councils have their place, but they must be locally accountable and appropriate.
“We had over 700 residents last year sign a campaign letter that started off the community governance review and it’s now crunch time for Stratton Parish Council.”
The review, led by Swindon Council, is a wholesale look at parished and non-parished areas, and could see parish boundaries redrawn and councils created, abolished or merged – among other options.
After the initial consultation ends on September 11, a cross-party review party will produce a draft, which will go out for further consultation.
John Foley, chairman of Stratton St Margaret Parish Council, said Stratton and Covingham Parish Councils were sending out their own joint letter explaining the benefits of staying in Stratton parish.
He refuted Coun Heenan’s arguments, claiming that no residents had approached any of the councillors about splitting away and candidates had stood unopposed in those wards.
He said: “If they want to break away, they want to do that, but they will be the worse off for that, because they will be losing all the benefits that a larger parish can provide, such as community centres. “And everyone person in Stratton St Margaret parish has a right to be buried in one of our cemeteries.”