Government to extend powers for “sustainable communities” to parish councils despite poor response
The Government has announced that it will make an order giving powers to town and parish councils to submit proposals under the Sustainable Communities Act 2007 “shortly” despite a disappointing response to a consultation carried out last year.
The Sustainable Communities Act introduced legislation to help reverse community decline and the loss of local facilities and services including, amongst others: shops, markets, Post Offices, pubs, bank branches and health centres.
The Act allows local councils to drive action in key areas that affect their communities, such as the current Supermarket Levy Campaign organised by Local Works. Slough is one of 142 local councils to “opt in” to the Act.
However just 139 responses were received during the consultation – which took place between June and September last year – into whether the same powers should be extended to parish councils.
Colnbrook with Poyle Parish Council did not respond.
Nevertheless, 95% of responses were in favour of parish councils being awarded new powers to protect their communities.
In addition to parish councils, contributions were also received from individuals, councils and commerical organisations.
The Government said:
“In light of the overwhelming support given to the proposal from a range of respondents, including town and parish councils, local citizens and across the private and commercial sector, we have concluded that existing legislation should be extended to town and parish councils.
It is evident from the consultation that town and parish councils are particularly enthusiastic at the prospect of engaging local people in the democratic process. These councils understand the local communities they represent and are well placed in the local political landscape to identify opportunities to support the localism agenda. The new legislation will help local people to work with town and parish councils to consider key issues of concern; to give town and parish councils the incentive to work with their communities to explore opportunities for improving local sustainability and encourage local citizens to become more involved in the democratic decision-making.”
The Sustainable Communities Act was an initiative under Labour but updated by the coalition in 2010. It complements a number of initiatives in the Localism Act 2011, including Neighbourhood Development Plans.
Read the Government response to the consultation here.