Historic decision to create a Nythe Parish approved by Swindon Borough Council
On Thursday 11th April, Swindon Borough Council voted to approve a Nythe Parish being created from 2014.
Cllr Dale Heenan. “A Nythe Parish run by Nythe residents was one of the first topics for debate on a meeting which lasted over 5 hours. I am very pleased that the positive case for Nythe has been recognized by other Councillors, and local residents can look forward to a Nythe Parish council of 7 people being elected in May 2014. Green open space around the area will continue to be protected and maintained, Nythe residents can decide their own services and if following the approach of Covingham Parish and Chiseldon Parish could see their Council Tax bills reduced by £70.
One of the fascinating parts of the debate was listening to Labour Councillors oppose the inclusion of new areas into Stratton Parish like Headlands which they had supported for the last six months, but at the last minute realized it would hike their Council Tax by £70 which no difference in local services. These same Labour Councillors had voted against a Nythe Parish!
On a personal note, I hope this shows that the Labour party shouldn’t issue press releases claiming victory a week before a decision the made.
My speech to the Council Chamber of all 57 Councillors was:
“The Community Governance Review has been underway for over six months and tonight we have some important decisions to make.
In Stage one of the review, I undertook a survey of the residents I represent in Lower Coleview and Nythe and submitted a proposal to create a Lower Coleview & Nythe Parish Council using the Borough Council ward boundaries.
The recommendation from the working party was further consultation to determine the Coleview boundary with suggestions of the Railway line and Oxford road as the boundary. In Stage two, with Coleview being suggested instead of Lower Coleview, further consultation was undertaken in the Nythe area.
A revised proposal setting out a positive case for change was submitted and covered why a Nythe Parish Council would meet the statutory criteria of being more effective, convenient, accountable and better reflect local community identity. The motion amendment highlights many of the key points.
Nythe is a clearly defined community with it’s own identity and sense of place with shops, schools, and a community centre. A Nythe Parish would be the 7th largest in Swindon and is a viable entity with 1100 properties.
The amendment which I hope members will support increases local representation in the parish from 3 members to 7 member.
My submissions to the governance review has shown that residents are prepared to engage and take part in a Nythe Parish, and there would be the first contested elections in 15 years and only the 2nd in 28 years!
To further support the case, a petition was organised which has gathered the support of over 450 individuals representing 29% of all households in the area. A smaller petition has been organised opposing a Nythe Parish for Nythe residents being setup.
It is important for everyone to note that this is not a number games, that there was no alternative proposal put forward on how the existing governance arrangements are, or can be, more effective, convenient accountable and better reflect community identity as set out in the statutory criteria.
However, if this local opinion is ignored then it will be important to remember this situation when any future issue is debated in this chamber. It is for us tonight to decide what happens.
I believe the amendment can be supported by everyone because it clearly gives positive reasons for change and will better reflect local community identity.”
The following motion of Council was proposed by Cllr Dale Heenan, and seconded by Cllr Richard Hurley.
“That this Council:
1) approves the draft Community Governance Review recommendations, with the except that after considering all submissions to the Community Governance Review agrees that a Nythe Parish with a Nythe Parish Council of 7 members should be created because
a) Nythe is a distinct and separate community of place with it’s own shops, community centre, schools, has a recognisable local community identity which residents identify with and it will improve community cohesion
b) it will increase the local representation from 3 members to 7 members, and generate sufficent interest to hold a parish election improving community representation.
c) is of sufficent size to be a viable entity, would be more effective and convienent and improve local administration by being a more representative, and accountable governance arrangement and enables inclusive, active and effective participiation by residents.
d) the boundary can be clearly defined and identified geographically with boundaries set as west of Dorcan Way, south of the Greenbridge fields, north of Dorcan stream and west of Ashbury avenue and the Drive road.
e) takes into account the other governance arrangements in the area, the statutory criteria and the views of local residents.
2) requests the Cabinet member for Finance sets up a working group of ward Councillors and Stratton Parish Council representatives to help minimize the impact of these changes on Stratton Parish Council.”