Friday, 13 September 2013

Parish Council Debate

On Wednesday night Wigan Council started the borough wide consultation on whether the people of Atherton should have a parish council, that story here. Now the debate rages on whether the whole borough should be consulted on the issue rather than just the people it effects. This was caused by enough people in the effect area signing a petition asking for a referendum.

Wigan Council argues that should a parish council be set up in the future then the whole borough would have to pay for it. However the cost of setting up a Parish Council is nominal, source Wigan Council - they only have to publish an order. 
So with that now clarified the next point is, after the Consultation the Council will decided whether to allow the residents to have a referendum on whether they themselves would like a parish council or not. To me it would be less bureaucratic to miss out this consultation and just go to the referendum and let the people of Atherton decide for themselves. This would not only save time but money too. I am not bothered about the very minimal amount it would cost to set up as it is less than 1p to my Council Tax. What I would like to have a consultation is whether the Council should spend £70 000 on feeding Cllrs?
If the Council decides after the consultation that there were not enough people that wanted it then that will be the end of that. No other petition for a parish council can come in for another 2 years. Should the Council decide to allow a referendum it will then be a binding vote whether to have a Parish Council or not. Should the vote be to have on then an order, which Wigan Council will pay for, will be published and an election to elect the new Parish Councillors will happen. The newly elected Cllrs will then meet and set the precept and that will come into force and will be added on to their Council Tax. If they vote not to have a parish council then that will be the end of that - again for at least for 2 years.
My issue with how Wigan Council is doing this is, they are trying to rig the vote so they do not have to give the people a referendum. They are doing this because the issue of whether Atherton simply doesn't really effect them so they will not respond to the Consultation and then when it comes back to the Council, Labour will say only a small part of the people responded so it is not worth doing.
So why does Wigan Council not want a Parish Council? They think if Atherton has one they wouldn't get their people in there and control it. I qualify my remarks by Shevington has a Parish Council. Labour controls that one. The average band D property pays over £22 extra. Labour has 6 Cllrs on there and Shevington Independents - who want a referendum to abolish it and lower the tax  - has 3 Cllrs on there, but yet even at the last review for them it was overwhelming that the residents of Shevington wanted a referendum to abolish it but Labour wouldn't allow this. This demonstrates that Labour are not consistent with their policy on this matter and just do what they want rather than let the people decide - so much for democracy!
So where do I lie in this debate? For me I am against Parish Council as I believe in lower tax and cutting the level of bureaucracy, however, should residents of an area disagree with my views and want a parish council just let them vote on whether they want one or not, saves time, saves money but more important it is more democratic!        

To complete the survey here is the link. For me as it doesn't effect me in Standish but I would like democracy to prevail I have said no to both question 2 and 3 and missed out 4. The questionnaire should have one more question, should the people effect have a vote? 

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