Community Governance Review

Ashford Borough Council started a Community Governance Review for the Borough (see below for information about community governance reviews).

The Community Governance Review was initiated after Willesborough Community Forum submitted a petition requesting that the Borough considered creating a Community Council for North Willesborough. Kennington Community Forum and South Willesborough and Newtown Community Group also submitted petitions with the required number of signatures.

During the initial stage of the Review all of the Urban Community Forums submitted proposals for Community Councils for their respective areas. South Ashford Community Forum’s submission can be downloaded from our Publications Page.

The Borough Council then considered those submissions and produced its own proposals for Community Councils in the urban areas.

ABC Draft Recommendations for South Ashford

South Ashford Community Council

The Borough Council is recommending the creation of a South Ashford Community Council. The recommended boundaries for this community council are shown on Plan 21 and include the Polling Districts of NO1, NO2, VI1, VI3, BE1, BE2, BE3. 10,274 electors will be affected.

The Borough Council is recommending

  • that the elections to South Ashford Community Council take place in 2019
  • that the number of councillors to be elected to the South Ashford Community Council is 16
  • that the Community Council be warded as follows, to reflect the Borough Council ward boundaries
Borough Ward Community Ward Name Electorate No. of Councillors
Norman Norman 2082 3
Beaver Beaver 4220 7
Part of Victoria Victoria 3972 6

Other changes

The Borough Council reviewed community governance for the whole borough. Some of the changes to adjacent parishes will affect South Ashford.

Great Chart with Singleton Parish Boundary

The Borough Council is recommending the amendment of the boundary of the Parish of Great Chart with Singleton to include 16-17 Lodge Close and 1-10 the Borrows within the Parish, as shown on Plan 4. These properties are currently within the South Ashford Community Forum area.

Kingsnorth Parish Boundary

A boundary change is recommended to the boundary of the Parish of Kingsnorth with the boundary of [Norman Ward] as shown on Plan 10. No properties are affected but it moves the boundary to the road, which is a sensible recognised boundary feature.

The Draft Recommendations can be downloaded from the Ashford Borough Council website: www.ashford.gov.uk/community-governance-review

Consultation?

Ashford Borough Council gave all electors in the areas affected the opportunity to respond to the Draft Recommendations.
South Ashford Community Forum’s response can be downloaded from our Publications page.

As part of that consultation the Borough Council also balloted all voters on the question:

“Do you want a Community Council in your area”

Ashford Borough Council announced voting the on 4th November 2015.

Of 9,220 eligible voters in South Ashford, 2,409 responded to the ballot, 2,398 were valid votes, 906 voted yes and 1,492 voted no.

The Council’s press release announcing the vote says:

“As stated in the original literature sent to residents in the relevant areas, the results of the ballot (for and against) are non-binding on the council and are one part of the consultation process. However, the result will inform the decision of council members in December.

When taking that final decision on whether to recommend the creation of community councils, councillors will take into account a number of important factors, including:

  • The turnout of the ballot
  • The margin of the result
  • The responses received to the wider consultation that gave residents the opportunity to comment in greater detail on the proposals

All of these matters will be taken into account and considered carefully by Councillors before a final decision is made.”

Read why we are supporting the proposal for a Community Council and more about Community Councils

What is a Community Governance Review?

The community governance review enables Ashford Borough Council to review and put in place or make changes to community governance systems and structures e.g. by creating, merging, abolishing or changing local councils in the review area.

What is Community Governance?

In essence it is the way in which local communities are represented and governed at local authority level and through the involvement of other statutory and voluntary agencies and community groups and by the efforts of local people themselves. It is also about the way in which individuals and groups within the community are listened to and able to influence decisions that affect them.

Why is Ashford Borough Council starting a review now?

Ashford Borough Council received a valid petition for the area of North Willesborough beginning the process for undertaking a review of this area.  A petition has also been received for the area of Kennington which is pending validation.

Government guidance recommends that reviews are undertaken every 10-15 years and can be instigated if there have been major changes in population in certain areas.  The last partial review of Ashford Borough was in 2006 and some areas have not been reviewed since before that time.  For the these reasons Ashford Borough Council has resolved to incorporate the review for the urban areas with a review of the whole borough.

How can residents have their say?

All interested groups and residents will be invited to give their views. Where changes to existing parish arrangements are proposed, we will consult the local electorate. Similarly, where new parish or town councils are proposed, we will consult the local electorate.

Why do some areas of Ashford have a local council, but others do not?

The answer is largely historical. Prior to local government reorganisation in 1974, most urban areas of England had an Urban District Council serving a single town. Since its creation in 1974, Ashford Borough Council, in common with many Borough and District councils, has governed a larger area than its predecessors. While some of the local councils in town areas, e.g. Tenterden, and the parish councils in the rural areas, have continued to exist following reorganisation in the 1970s, other councils, such as the Urban District Councils, were subsumed into the larger Borough Council.

Is the creation of new local councils the only option in areas which don’t currently have one?

No. A review could also explore whether alternative forms of local governance would be more suitable for an area including:

      • area or community forums
      • area committees
      • neighbourhood management programmes
      • residents and tenants or community associations
      • parish meeting

What must Ashford Borough Council take into account when undertaking a Community Governance Review?

Ashford Borough Council is required to take into account:

      • the impact of existing community governance arrangements on community cohesion and
      • the size, population and boundaries of any local community or proposed local council.

In carrying out a Community Governance Review, Ashford Borough Council must also consider the wider picture of community governance. This includes taking account of well-established forms of community governance such as local residents associations and community forums. These can be considered as either alternatives to or stages towards establishing parish or town councils. Guidance does, however, indicate that local councils are set apart from these other kinds of governance by the fact that they are a democratically elected tier of local government and can set a budget and possess specific powers.

What are the criteria by which options for the future will be judged?

Government guidance indicates that characteristics of good community governance to be considered in assessing the options when undertaking such a review include:

      • a sense of civic pride and civic values
      • a strong, inclusive community and voluntary sector
      • a sense of place – with a positive feeling for people and local distinctiveness
      • effective engagement with the local community at neighbourhood level
      • strong leadership
      • the ability of local authorities to deliver quality services economically and efficiently
      • an area that is of a size that is viable as an administrative unit of local government.

Local people might consider these characteristics when submitting their views.

What will the Community Governance Review consider?

      • Should an unparished area have a local council created?
      • ·Should the number of local councillors on an existing local council be changed?
      • Should a local council boundary be altered to better reflect the local community?
      • Should a local council be warded or existing local council wards be altered to reflect changes in the local community?
      • Should the name of a local council be changed?
      • Should existing local councils be grouped?

Who will Ashford Borough Council consult with?

Before making any recommendations or publishing final proposals, the Council will take full account of the views of local people. The Council will comply with the statutory consultative requirements by:

      • consulting local government electors within the area under review
      • consulting any other person or body (including a local authority) which appears to the Council to have an interest in the Community Governance Review (e.g. Kent County Council)
      • taking into account any representations received in connection with the Community Governance Review.

The information above has been extracted from the Ashford Borough Council Community Governance Review ‘FAQs’.

We have used the generic term ‘local council’ on this page. The title adopted for the proposed local councils for urban Ashford is ‘Community Council’. Read more about Community Councils

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