Frequently Asked Questions
Your questions answered on the Community Governance Review
Q. Why is Eastleigh Borough Council consulting on a Community Governance Review (CGR)?
A. Eastleigh Borough Council believes that putting in place the most local tier of decision-making possible is the best way to meet our aim of giving residents greater ownership and control over the day-to-day activities and services delivered on your behalf. If a new parish or town council is approved for this area, it will put the town centre and surrounding neighbourhoods on an equal footing with the rest of the Borough. The final decision will be based on the views of local people. (The Borough Council is doing this under the provisions of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007).
Q. Why is this consultation happening now?
A. The Government is moving towards bigger ‘unitary’ councils in many parts of the country which would be larger than borough councils. This would mean that Eastleigh Borough Council and Hampshire County Council could be replaced by a council covering a much wider area than the present Borough, reducing your representation.
At the same time, the Government is keen to create more parish and town councils at a local level, including in urban areas. In the past 15 years, more than 270 new councils have been created across the UK.
The unparished area of Eastleigh has changed a lot since the last Community Governance Review in 2008. The Council gave the go-ahead to this current CGR consultation in February 2020, but the process was put on hold while the Borough Council put measures in place to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Q. What area does it cover?
A. The area covered by the CGR is the remaining ‘unparished’ part of the Borough of Eastleigh that doesn’t have a town or parish council like the rest of the Borough. It is bordered by Allbrook parish in the north, the M27/Test Valley/Southampton City border to the south, the M3 to the west, and the River Itchen boundary with the Bishopstoke and West End parish areas to the east. The area is similar in size to the existing Chandler’s Ford Parish Council and Hedge End Town Council areas.
Q. What services would a new parish or town council deliver?
A. Services would include maintaining local parks, cemeteries, play areas, allotments and community buildings.
Eastleigh Borough Council currently works with parish and town councils in the rest of the Borough to help them take more local control of these types of facilities.
They also have a strong voice in planning issues, separate from Eastleigh Borough Council, which is the statutory planning authority. A new local council would have a role in supporting communities through crises, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Q. Will this consultation create one parish or town council, or two, or more?
A. The area is quite large but could be managed by just one town council. We’re asking you if you want a single parish/town council for the whole area, or one for your neighbourhood.
Q. What are the benefits?
A. A more localised council means that, as a resident, you would have a bigger say in how your neighbourhood is run, the quality of the services provided and how much they cost. You would have an additional tier of councillors to represent you, focusing on more immediately local issues – and potentially in a smaller neighbourhood area (if more than one council is opted for). Research suggests that people have the greatest level of trust in their most local tier of governance.
Q. What are the financial implications – will I pay more Council Tax?
A. The rate of council tax would be set locally but, as the new town or parish council(s) would be picking up some services that are currently delivered by the Borough Council, it is unlikely that residents would see a significant change to their council tax bill. Parish councillors are unpaid volunteers, normally supported by a small number of salaried staff, led by a parish clerk.
Q. When could the new council(s) be up and running?
A. Following this consultation that ends on 25 January 2021 the decision on whether or not to parish will be taken early next year. A Parish Working Group would be set up to begin putting arrangements in place, and elections of new parish or town councillors would take place in May 2022. This would create a shadow council that would set council tax for the year 2023-4.
Q. Why should I respond?
A. As a resident, decisions on a range of important matters are made on your behalf all the time. Where there is an opportunity to have these decisions taken more easily and locally, we think people should take it. The area you live in has changed significantly since we last asked residents about what form of local government they’d like to see.