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More information about Parish Councils and Parish Meetings

A parish meeting consists of the electors of the parish with the chairman of the parish and the proper officer of the Council as the trustees for the parish meeting. A parish council is a corporate body consisting of the elected members with powers to precept. Parish meetings can also set a precept which as with parish council precepts is collected on behalf of the parish by the Borough council when it sets the Council Tax.

The current precept for the parishes is as follows (all of the current precepting parishes are Parish Councils):

Archdeacon Newton 1,400
Bishopton 6,400
Heighington 15,513
High Coniscliffe 1,500
Hurworth 40,785
Low Coniscliffe/Merrybent 5,050
Low Dinsdale 6,500
Middleton St George 45,182
Neasham 1,430
Piercebridge 1,565
Sadberge 5,600
Whessoe 4,400

Parish Wards

Where a Parish Council (which is subject to elections) falls across two Borough or Principal Council wards then each area will be warded across the ward boundary. For example the current Parish Council area of Whessoe is split into two wards the rural ward of Whessoe parish which sits in the ward of Sadberge and Whessoe and the urban parish ward which sits within the Harrowgate Hill ward. This enables the conduct of elections to be consistent with local elections for the efficient conduct of elections. Where a parish is warded in this way each warded area must have 100 or more electors. 

Grouping Parishes

There are some limitations on the grouping or degrouping of parishes. 

The guidance restricts the recommendations of the CGR so that the Council can only recommend a parish meeting for any number of electors between 0 – 150. Unless they already exist as parishes councils smaller new parishes of less than 150 electors will be unable to establish their own parish council. The Council can recommend a parish meeting or parish council for any number of electors between 150 – 999 and should recommend a parish council where there are 1000 or more electors. 

In some cases, it may be preferable to group together parishes so as to allow a common parish council to be formed. Such proposals are worth considering and may avoid the need for substantive changes to parish boundaries, the creation of new parishes or the abolition of very small parishes where, despite their size, they still reflect community identity. It needs to reflect community identity and should not be used to build artificial communities under a single parish council. 

There are separate powers which can allow parish meetings to request being joined with adjoining parish meetings with their consent to form a larger a parish.

Abolishing and Dissolving Parishes

The Government expects to see a trend in the creation rather than the abolition of parishes however there are circumstances where the Council may conclude that he provision of effective and convenient local government and or reflection of community identity and interests may be best met by the abolition of small parishes and the creation of a larger parish covering the same area. 

Council Size

The size of parish councils is determined by a number of factors. Population is an Important factor and the aim should be that the number of parish members broadly corresponds to the electorate for the relevant area. The following number represents the typical number of parish council members according to the electorate that currently exist.

Population Number of Parish Council Members
Up to 500 5-8
501-2500 6-12
2501-10,000 9-16
10,001-20,000 13-27
20,00 and above 13-31

There is a National Association of Local Councils Circular which reflected similar numbers and suggests the range should be 7-25.

Other factors include the geography; the pattern of communities and comparable parishes in the area; the ability to recruit parish members in the relevant area and the budget available to the parish council.