Community Governance – do we still need the parishes?

 

The Cornwall Community Governance Review meeting took place on Wednesday 10th September at 7.30pm in The Parkhouse Centre and was very well attended by members of Marhamchurch, Launcells and Poundstock parishes.

Parkhouse Centre

It was part of a review of parish and town boundaries. In other words, the key issues were:

  1. Do the local rural parishes of Poundstock, Launcells, Marhamchurch and Kilkhampton want to be swallowed up by Bude & Stratton Town Council?
  2. Do those who live in Bude & Stratton think that those in outlying areas identify more with Bude & Stratton than their own parishes?
  3. Do those in outlying areas contribute enough for local services in Bude & Stratton, or should they pay more council tax?

As usual with politics, it mainly seems to come down to power and money.

Present at the meeting, was a panel of Cornwall Council Officers and the issues discussed affected the parishes of Bude-Stratton, Marhamchurch, Launcells, Kilkhampton and Poundstock. If you wonder what Parish Councils do, then check out this link.

This article published in this week’s Bude and Stratton Post explains the current situation, with Bude-Stratton Town Council putting forward two proposals for consideration which affect the other parishes.  This is the first of ten public meetings taking place across Cornwall. It says:

The town council submitted two options to Cornwall Council: Option one — create one large parish by combining Bude-Stratton with all of Launcells and Marhamchurch parishes along with the Ivyleaf part of Kilkhampton and the Widemouth Bay area of Poundstock, which would also take in a part of Marhamchurch to the west of the A39. This will produce one large parish.

Option two — bringing in Ivyleaf as it is intrinsically linked to Bude-Stratton and the coastal resort of Widemouth Bay (along with the coastal strip of Marhamchurch).

 

The primary concern of most parties present was the lack of communication and consultation by Bude and Stratton Town Council (BSTC) with the other parishes that they wish to absorb.  Bude is seen as a ‘hub’ town with facilities such as a library, museum, car parks and public toilets etc. Councillor Peter La Broy stated that BSTC believes that all the parishes involved benefit from those facilities.  The other parishes put forward strong arguments why this is unacceptable to their residents.

Marhamchurch considers itself to already be a strong vibrant community with its own village shop, play park, public toilet, ad access to the mobile library as well as working farms alongside their coastal area.  It sees no benefit in changing the boundaries that have been there for many years.

Launcells parish is predominantly a farming parish, too, and considers that it has more in common with Holsworthy than the coastal resort of Bude.  Launcells is 5 miles from Holsworthy which also has a library, museum, public hall, public toilets and car parks.  Launcells Parish Hall is the hub of the parish and is used for various community activities and wants to retain its local community identity.

Poundstock shares the same opinion and all feel that it is vitally important to maintain the unique quality that rural parishes have, where Parish Councils in those areas are close to their constituents and operate in a non-political manner.

There was no submission from the parish of Kilkhampton at this particular meeting.

A Widemouth resident made a valid point that all residents in the rural parishes are likely to have increased costs in paying for services those in Bude do not have i.e., private sewerage facilities, the necessity of owning and running a car to get anywhere due to lack of public transport, etc.

The residents of outlying parishes consider that they do spend money in Bude and contribute financially in that respect by use of the car parks, cafés and shops without .

If a Parish Council is viable and the community it serves has its own identity, there could be seen to be no justifiable reason to merge with it with others under the terms of reference for boundary changes.

It is important to note that the final decision in these matters is made by Cornwall Council and these are the early stages with the likelihood of another meeting similar to this one being held next summer based on the results and feedback taken from these initial public meetings and further discussions.

Further information regarding the Cornwall Community Governance Review and the full background to why this meeting was held can be found here.

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