By Harriet Ernstsons Friday 20 September 2013 Updated: 20/09 08:53
RULES around the creation of parish councils have been relaxed to allow more of them to be set up in towns and cities like Redditch.
Communities Minister Don Foster announced this month the Government was cutting the number of petition signatures needed to create a parish council and reducing the length of time authorities can take to decide on applications.
The aim is to encourage the creation of parish or town councils in more urban areas to encourage more localised decision-making. Currently the borough has just one parish council in Feckenham but they are present in other towns such as Evesham and Droitwich and in areas including Alvechurch, Beoley and Wythall.
They are the lowest level of local government but supporters say they can deal with or raise attention of issues district and county councils overlook.
The Government’s announcement comes just weeks after the leader of neighbouring Bromsgrove District Council Coun Roger Hollingworth called for parish councils to be abolished branding them a waste of money.
But Rhys Williams, chair of Feckenham Parish Council, said he felt the introduction of more would enable the interests of people within the parish to be promoted more effectively.
“We find that our position is such we become a bit of a buffer between our parishioners and district council services.
“Our powers are fairly limited but we do find we can help along the way to get services administered more effectively in our parish.
“It would create a greater interest in localism and council services if the inner-city parishes were resurrected. They tend to fall into disuse because of the fact district councils are closer geographically to the parishioners - the Town Hall is easily accessible for people from Southcrest, Crabbs Cross and Headless Cross.
“When you’re out in the sticks to be able to pop round the corner into the local village hall and have your say is more important.”
Coun Bill Hartnett, leader of Redditch Borough Council, questioned whether the idea would take off in the urban areas of the town.
“There are no applications at the moment but if there was it’s something we would consider,” he said.
“When you say parish council I think most people think of them as a rural thing, so I’m not sure if it will take off in Redditch.
“There are opportunities to engage within the borough and I’d like to think we are close to the people. We’ll see what comes forward but there are not really queues of people waiting to stand in elections for parish councils.”
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