Should we have a parish council?

November 24 2021

A NEW council is being proposed to represent residents of Kingswood.

People are being asked to have their say about the idea of creating a parish council, with elected members, to cover the two areas. If approved, the new council would be elected in 2023 and put the area on an equal footing with areas such as Downend and Yate.

But the extra layer of government would come at a cost to residents, who would have new charges added to their annual council tax bill. 

 Parish and town councils are the most local level of government, with unpaid elected councillors and limited powers.

They are formed to provide a stronger voice for an area, holding meetings and basing their offices locally. They can take responsibility for some neighbourhood services otherwise provided by South Gloucestershire Council, such as parks, play areas, bus shelters, litter bins, allotments, sports pitches, youth and leisure facilities. They can comment on planning applications but have no powers to approve or refuse them. Parish councils set a precept to cover their running costs, which is added to council tax bills.

This year Band D council tax payers in unparished parts of Kingswood each paid £54.30 less than those in the Downend & Bromley Heath parish.

A consultation launched by South Gloucestershire Council will run until January 7 2022.

The council last consulted on the topic in 2012. It now says Kingswood has seen considerable change since then, with work starting on the regeneration of the town centre, including the Whitfield Tabernacle restoration and the recent Masterplan consultation, and it wants to consider how to  "maintain this positive momentum in the town". 

South Gloucestershire cabinet member for communities and local place, Rachael Hunt, said: “This consultation offers an excellent opportunity for our residents to consider the potential benefits of town or parish councils.

"Being part of a parish gives residents a stronger voice on what happens in their community and enables them to focus on what matters in their local area, such as keeping streets clean and tidy, and having flower displays to brighten up community areas.”

More details and a questionnaire can be found at the consultations section of South Gloucestershire Council's website, or at bit.ly/3Ec9ujm

Anyone who is not online can call 01454 868009e.