Following feedback from an extensive two stage public consultation on proposals to establish a parish council for the Spitalfields & Banglatown and Weavers areas in Tower Hamlets, councillors have decided to keep the existing governance arrangements.
The results were confirmed at a meeting of Tower Hamlets Full Council on Wednesday 17 July, where councillors voted 28 in favour of accepting the recommendations not to have a parish council, with three against and four abstentions.
The size and scope of parish councils are different across the country. However, a key role they share is the ability to take on the responsibility for running some local services, which are funded by an additional precept being paid by those living within the parish boundaries.
The full report includes a number of detailed background papers, including the consultation stages, as well as the final analysis and conclusions which found:
There is no evidence of significant support for the creation of a parish council, either within the area or within the broader community.
A parish council would not be an effective and convenient form of local governance and would not be best placed to deliver quality services efficiently and effectively.
There is the potential for a significant additional financial cost to local residents from the precept raised by a parish council with a particular concern that this could have a greater impact on people living on lower incomes.
A parish would not be reflective of the identity and interests of the whole community.
The creation of a parish would be likely to damage community cohesion both within the area and between the area and other parts of the borough.
This outcome reflects the opinion of residents who took part in the public consultation. Of the 2,173 responses received in the final stage of consultation, 1,239 were from people living within the area covered by the three parish council boundary options. Within this group 34.6 per cent (429) supported the creation of a parish council, 63.1 per cent (783) did not support the plan, and 2.2 per cent did not express an opinion.
The Spitalfields & Banglatown and Weavers parish council proposals were first considered by the council following a valid petition by a group of local residents on 23 July 2018.
The petition led to a formal Community Governance Review (CGR) being established to investigate the proposals in greater detail, including the first stage public consultation starting in October 2018.
After research and feedback from the first stage of consultation, the council published a set of draft proposals for a second stage of public consultation and engagement ending on 28 May 2019.
This second stage consultation included the council’s preferred recommendation to reject a parish council but also to look at a range of alternatives to create or strengthen other forms of community governance.
There are existing groups and forums that the council can support and engage with under existing governance arrangements without creating new arrangements. Proposals for strengthening local democratic engagement were supported by the council’s General Purposes Committee on 25 June 2019.
The full report, including all supporting documents, are available to read and download from the council’s website.