The public consultation on proposals for the governance arrangements for town and parish councils in the borough, which opened on 6th September, is due to close at midnight on 28th November. The joint parish of Hulme Walfield and Somerford Booths, having consulted with its electorate and considered their views, is strongly opposed to both of the proposed boundary changes. It considers that the presented proposals:
- Do not meet the need for a strong element of community cohesion in the proposed new wards
- Will result in a disenfranchisement of a significant number of residents who consider themselves to be part of, and interact with a rural community. These interests cannot adequately be represented on an urban-facing council where, at the most, 2 or 3 councillors will represent their views on a Town Council of 22.
- Will merge part of Somerford parish into a new ward despite the lack of any meaningful community coherence, physical identity, or strong communication links with Somerford Booths and Hulme Walfield parishes
- Prematurely propose the inclusion of new residential developments of Alderley Gate and Redrow (proposed) to the west within Congleton Town Council. It might be appropriate to reconsider this element during the next review in approximately 10 years time, once all the proposed developments have been completed.
The Parish Council does wish to respond positively to the consultation, so proposes the following alternatives:
Alternative to Proposal 1: Area of Hulme Walfield within the Link Road Boundary
“That the important ‘rural’ corridor extending from Giantswood Lane through to Sandy Lane Farm and Westlow Mere, illustrated on the map below, should remain within the parish of Hulme Walfield. This would include the proposed development of Mount Pleasant Farm and the adjacent land bounding the link road.”
- This reflects the strongly held views of the residents living in this ‘rural character’ area who wish to continue to be represented by a ‘rural-facing’ parish council that has served them well over the years and whose priorities and policies are clearly articulated in its approved Neighbourhood Plan and 5 year Business Plan
- The inclusion of a small element of the proposed residential development will ensure not only a strong physical unit but a valuable source of additional local funding for the parish unit to meet proposals in the above plans.
“That the new and proposed residential developments of Alderley Gate, Mount Pleasant Farm and ‘Redrow’ ( LPS29 on draft Local Plan) should, for the time being, remain in the parish of Hulme Walfield.”
- While these developments might be considered ‘urban’ in nature and therefore physically associated with Congleton town, the perception of the residents is that they have moved to ‘the countryside’. Their principal services (education, refuse collection, highways maintenance, policing, street lighting and social care) are provided not by Congleton Council but by Cheshire East Council.
- That this proposal permits the combined parish unit of Hulme Walfield and Somerford Booths to act as an effective, well funded unit on behalf of its new residents, and to use their precept contribution clearly focussed on such important measures as enhanced public rights of way, local community engagement, active recreation improvements and conservation/enhancement of its countryside character.
Alternative to Proposal 2: Combining the remainder of Hulme Walfield and Somerford Booths with a rural ‘remnant’ of Somerford
“That the current combined parish of Hulme Walfield and Somerford Booths remain as a single administrative unit, with the exception of the land shown on the map below, until such time as all proposed development has been completed, and that the proposed additional area of Somerford should be excluded.”
- There is no community or physical affinity with the residents of Somerford
- The above proposals make for a strong and viable administrative unit with sound funding, the ability and experience to respond to the needs of its electorate, and a rural outlook and identity.
Click on the map to enlarge the image.
Members of the public are invited to comment on this response via the Clerk, or by attendance at the next council meeting on 18th November. Following a discussion in Council and recorded vote, these comments and proposals will then be sent to the Electoral Services department of Cheshire East Council to meet the consultation deadline of 28th November 2021.
Download a copy of the full report below or request a copy in an alternative format by contacting the Clerk at email@example.com