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Wellesbourne and Walton Parish Council Meeting 4th October 2016
This report first appeared in the Stratford-upon-Avon Herald
Two new government proposals were amongst the main topics at the October meeting of Wellesbourne and Walton Parish Council. The first proposal is from the Boundary Commission which is seeking to reduce the number of Members of Parliament and, at the same time, to even out constituency sizes. In the West Midlands it is proposed to cut the number of MPs from 59 to 53 and average constituency sizes to around 75,000 electors. For Wellesbourne, the Commission’s proposal, which was welcomed by the Parish Council, is to move the village back into the Stratford upon Avon constituency, from whence it was shifted only a few years ago. The proposals are planned to take effect in 2018. Anyone wanting to see the details of the proposals and comment on them should visit www.bce2018.org,uk
The second government proposal is to change the rules regarding precept – the moneys which a Parish Council is paid from Council tax. Currently, if a Parish Council with a precept income above £500,000 wishes to raise the amount householders pay by more than 2%, the Council must hold a referendum. The Government is considering lowering this threshold or even removing it altogether. Wellesbourne’s precept is currently below the threshold so does not have to hold a referendum, but would if the Government goes ahead with the idea. The Parish Council agreed to object strongly to the idea as a referendum could cost more than the amount raised by any increase in precept, especially for smaller parishes; parish councils can be affected by cost increases outside their control and holding a referendum could cause serious delay to Parish Council projects. The proposal appears to be contrary to the Government’s stated aims of cutting costs and encouraging local decision making.
The Neighbourhood Plan is nearing completion and he group will be sending the Submission version to the District Council in the next few weeks. There will then be a further six-week consultation process. However, the District Council has recently updated its map defining the boundary of the built-up area of the village to take into account areas of green space within the new developments, and has therefore asked that a further period of public consultation on the neighbourhood Plan be undertaken. This will mean a considerable delay in implementing the plan. The Neighbourhood Plan Group and the Parish Council believe further consultation is unnecessary and have both objected to this suggestion, pointing out that the layout of the new developments was taken into account whilst the plan was being prepared, the new map has been incorporated into the plan and the change in the map will mean no change to any of the proposals within the plan. They also point out that there will be an opportunity for the public to comment once the plan is submitted to the District Council.
The handover of the Sports and Community Centre to the Parish Council is planned for October 21st and the newly formed trust which will manage the facility is about to interview for a potential manager to run it. The volunteers on the trust will be very busy in the coming months getting the building fitted out and ready for use, as well as planning a formal opening ceremony.