The Chairman of the Community Governance Review (CGR) Working Group updated members on the progress made to date.
The Committee was informed that the Working Group had met on three occasions. The first meeting was to form the working group, select a chairman and clarify the scope, terms of reference and timescale for the CGR. Suitable consultants were identified to carry out the CGR. The second meeting interviewed the potential consultant, and the third meeting began the consultation and clarified any issues that the consultants highlighted
It was noted that that at the first meeting the Head of Democratic, Legal and Policy Services had clarified the timescales, particularly with regards to the petitions from the wards of Micklefield and Totteridge. In addition, further clarification had also been provided in relation to which body would make the final decision on the review, and it was noted that this resided with the Shadow Executive, not WDC. The timeline provided for this to take place at the December 2019 meeting of the Shadow Executive. The Chairman of the Working Group commented that it was fortunate a member of the Shadow Executive also served as a member of the Working Group, as he would be able to give the Shadow Executive a full picture of the work and recommendations presented on the CGR.
Members noted the selection process for the preferred consultants, and given the tight timescales, it had been decided to use a firm rather than individual consultants. The Local Government Resource Centre (LGRC) were deemed suitable to undertake the required work.
At the second meeting of the Working Group, representatives from LGRC were invited to attend to meet Members and discuss in greater detail the proposed review to be undertaken. The Working Group was satisfied that LGRC were suitable and confirmed that they should be engaged. The CGR would be conducted in accordance with the process authorised by legislation and the Guidance on Community Governance Reviews published by the Local Government Boundary Commission.
The Committee was informed that at the third meeting of the Working Group, the process with LGRC had been initiated, and any apparent issues were discussed, including in relation to the terms of reference as agreed by Council. Some concern was expressed over the deadline for the completion of the initial report by the first week of July so that the necessary information could be made available to the residents of the unparished area to make an informed response to the annual consultation. Further discussions took place, which led to a proposed change of date to the middle of July.
The Chairman of the Working Group then highlighted the various timescales. He went on to highlight that up to the middle of July consultation would take place with those identified in the legislation and Terms of Reference and that the first report would be produced which would form the basis of consultation with residents in the middle of July to the end of September. The results of this would be analysed and a report produced with a number of recommendations.
In December Shadow Executive would be invited to consider the recommendations made from the review. In May 2020 elections to any parish councils would take place for any created, and in the event that there was no decision to create any parish council in any part of the unparished areas, the next occasion that this could be revisited would be in 2025.
Members were informed that meetings of the Group would be called as and when required and that no further meetings were scheduled for the time being.
RESOLVED: That the report be noted.