Can parish councils rise to the challenge?. James Garo Derounian and Elisabeth Skinner University of Gloucestershire. Introduction What are parish councils? What are the Government’s expectations? What is the evidence? The Quality Parish Scheme Case studies
James Garo Derounian and Elisabeth Skinner
University of Gloucestershire
What are parish councils?
What are the Government’s expectations?
What is the evidence?
Can parish councils rise to the challenge?
Parish councils 1894
£200 million 80,000 councillors
25,000 staff Serving 15 million people
(30% of the population)
200 to 80,000 population
Most parishes are rural with less than 5000 population
Budgets £1000 to £3 million
Few duties – many powers
A Quality Parish is “representative of, and actively engages, all parts of its community, providing vision, identity and a sense of belonging…is committed to work in partnership with principal local authorities and other public service agencies.”
David Miliband: more powers to strong parish councils in a move towards local empowerment (ODPM [online] 2006)
*ODPM (2003) The Quality Parish and Town Council Scheme: The Quality Scheme Explained, London, ODPM
1 What is the evidence that parish councils can meet expectations and are worthy of Government investment?
2 Can parish councils rise to the challenge?
The Countryside Agency (2004) identifies good practice showing parish councils’ active engagement to improve services. For example:
1 Branxton Parish Plan Northumberland
2 Hibaldstow Recreational Facilities
3 Llanbrynmair Local Distinctiveness Project Powys
üSome councils are delivering an excellent service for their citizens.
üThe sector is striving to increase the numbers of high performing councils.
ü The sector needs further support from other agencies - especially principal authorities and the voluntary sector.
It will take time but the growing number of active, responsive and engaging parish councils demonstrate the significant potential of the parish model and cannot be ignored .
“The strength of free peoples resides in the local community. Local institutions are to liberty what primary schools are to science; they put it within the people’s reach; they teach people to appreciate its peaceful enjoyment & accustom them to make use of it.
Without local institutions a nation may give itself a free government but it has not got the spirit of liberty”
Alexis de Tocqueville 1835