Majority of responses against Newton town council creation in Community Governance Review
The first phase of a Community Governance Review (CGR) for St Helens Borough has concluded following public consultation.
Residents were invited to share their views on existing parish council arrangements and a petition proposal submitted by Newton & Earlestown Community Group to create a new town council for Newton-le-Willows and Earlestown.
Views on the petition proposal were gathered through a postal ballot in Newton-le-Willows East and West, asking registered electors whether a new town council should be created for those wards.
In total 5,304 postal ballot votes were cast, a turnout of 28.2 per cent, with 3 invalid votes.
3,882 responded 'no' (73.2 per cent of valid votes), and 1,419 (26.8 per cent of valid votes) responded 'yes'.
Views on the petition proposal were also invited through an online and paper consultation, with 251 representations received. 96.14 per cent of representations were against creating a town council, and 3.86 per cent in favour.
The cross-party CGR Working Group is required to follow the legislative process and the agreed Terms of Reference for the review in considering the postal ballot result and representations received. It must therefore make draft recommendations to the council, to be considered at a meeting of the full Council on 19 April 2023. The draft recommendation from the CGR Working Group to Council will be not to agree the proposal in the petition to create a new town council.
Subject to approval at this Council meeting, the approved draft recommendations will be published by the Council and be subject to a second stage of public consultation between April and July 2023, inviting views on the approved draft recommendations.
At the close of the second stage of consultation, the CGR Working Group will consider the responses and report its final recommendations on the petition proposal to Council on 15 November 2023 for final determination.
Meanwhile, the CGR Working Group will consider the consultation survey responses about governance arrangements for the borough's seven existing parish councils. Draft recommendations will be made in a report to the full Council meeting on 12 July 2023. Subject to approval by Council, the draft recommendations will be published and be subject to a second stage of public consultation.
Councillor Martin Bond, Cabinet Member for Finance and Governance and Chair of the CGR Working Group, said:
"Parish councils can, when operating effectively, play an important role in terms of community governance and empowerment at a local level. CGRs provide the opportunity for principal councils to review and make changes to community governance within their areas. They may be undertaken when there have been changes in population, following a Boundary Commission review of warding patterns as in our case, or in response to specific or local new issues.
"It is good practice for a principal council to consider conducting a review every 10 to 15 years in any event. The Local Government Boundaries for St Helens Borough Council were changed in 2022 which adds a further level of good practice to the CGR.
"A CGR may also be triggered by local people presenting public petitions to the principal council. The Council is under a duty to carry out a CGR if it receives a valid community governance petition for the whole or part of the council's area.
"At the end of the review, we will have thoroughly reviewed the governance arrangements of the existing local parish councils within our communities and responded in a fully considered, robust, non-partisan and democratic way to the petition proposal to create a new town council.
"I want to thank both the cross-party working group for their diligence in the ongoing work of the review and all those who shared their views as part of this first-stage Community Governance Review consultation."
For more information on the Community Governance Review visit www.sthelens.gov.uk/CGR.