At long last the Government has published proposals to reform parish polls, following pressure by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) to update current rules which are over 40 years old.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has issued a consultation on the modernisation of parish polls, with the aim of bringing the process up to date and ensuring parish polls continue to provide a legitimate method for local communities to have a voice on issues that directly relate to parish matters. During the passage of the Local Audit and Accountability Bill NALC successfully lobbied for the Bill to be amended to reform parish polls, receiving cross-party support. The consultation sets out DCLG's proposals and seeks views on the trigger, voting arrangements, the questions on which a poll can be held and other consequential matters.
Chairman of NALC, Cllr Ken Browse, said: "Changes to the forty year-old rules governing parish polls are long overdue, so I very much welcome Government's consultation on modernising these very local referendums. All too often communities are hampered by red tape and archaic rules which get in the way of vital bodies like parish councils getting on and making a difference to their area. We've lobbied successive Governments to update these rules to ensure they are fit for purpose and I'm pleased progress is being made.
"However further changes to the law are needed to put communities in control of their area and the next Government should introduce a Parish Councils Bill to reform outdated laws governing the administration of parish councils, including new powers to deliver local services and tackle local issues."