Views wanted on proposed changes to Chelmsford parish councils
For the past year, the City Council has been reviewing the set-up of parishes (the most local form of government) across the Chelmsford borough. This is called a Community Governance Review (CGR).
Chelmsford residents are now being asked to give their feedback on draft recommendations made for the parish arrangements in their neighbourhood area. Comments can be given on the consultation until 30 November 2021.
Chelmsford has three tiers of local government:
- Tier 3: Essex County Council (ECC)
- Tier 2: Chelmsford City Council (CCC)
- Tier 1: Parish councils
What are parish councils responsible for?
Parish and town councils are the first tier or level of local government. They play a vital role in engaging with local people and helping to shape their communities. They give people a voice on “grassroots” issues.
Parish/town councils are made up of councillors who are elected every four years to represent the residents of that parish. These councillors are local people interested in getting things done for their parish, and are not necessarily from a political party.
First and foremost, parish and town councils are a voice on local issues. They can provide some very local services, but it is up to each council to make its own decisions for their area.
They can be responsible for:
- playing fields and sports facilities
- bus shelters
- community centres and halls
- play areas and play equipment
- grants to help local organisations
They also have the power to issue fixed penalty fines for things like:
- fly posting
- dog offences
They are also consulted by the City Council on planning applications (but don’t approve them) and by the City and County Councils and other organisations (such as police and transport authorities) on issues affecting the community, such as roads and cycle ways.
Why does there need to be a review?
Chelmsford currently has 25 parish councils, one town council and one parish meeting. There is also an area in the central part of the city that currently has no parish. It has been many years since there was last a CGR, and in that time, new neighbourhoods have been created and other developments have changed. The review considers whether community governance arrangements across the whole of the Chelmsford area are still fit for purpose.
As well as the online consultation where people can look up their neighbourhood and give feedback on the recommendations, some residents will also receive a leaflet or letter in the post. This will be in the areas where more significant recommendations have been made, such as creating new parishes.