Cheshire East Council is proposing to increase the number of seats on Alderley Edge Parish Council.
There are currently 9 members of the Parish Council, however Cheshire East is recommending that this is increased to 12 seats stating "Alderley Edge has a relatively low number of seats for a council of its size. Cheshire East Council recommends an increase to twelve seats, which is consistent with the Borough average for a council with this number of electors.
Cheshire East Council is also proposing to merge the parishes of Wilmslow, Handforth and Chorley to create to "form a single community" which will be called Wilmslow.
Additionally, they are recommending that the new housing development of 185 properties between Clay Lane and Sagars Road be transferred from the parish of Styal to the proposed enlarged parish of Wilmslow.
The Council's report states "It will be appropriate to consider whether there should be separate representation of the electors of Handforth on the merged parish council. Handforth's existing parish wards are small (each with less than 2,500 electors even by 2025) compared to Wilmslow's (each more than 3,500). However, as a whole Handforth Parish, with a projected 5,814 electors by 2025, is similar in size to the average Wilmslow ward. There is therefore a good case for making Handforth (including the area proposed to be transferred from Styal) a single parish ward within the merged parishes.
"The Council also considers that there will be merit in merging the existing parish of Chorley with the parish of Wilmslow. The existing parish has an electorate of 386 (rising to a projected 394 by 2025) and a precept of £5,000. Questions have arisen with regard to the viability of the parish of Chorley, and only five nominations were received for the Parish Council's seven seats at the ordinary elections in 2019. It is therefore proposed that this area should also be transferred to the proposed enlarged parish of Wilmslow."
The review is also proposing an increase in the number of seats on Wilmslow Town Council from 15 to 20.
The Council recommends that Styal remains a separate parish, with an increase to eight seats on their Parish Council,
The above recommendations are the result of a borough-wide review carried out by Cheshire East which follows Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and Local Government Boundary Commission for England guidance, is to ensure that community governance arrangements 'continue to reflect local identities and facilitate effective and convenient local government'.
Cheshire East is to hold a 12-week consultation on proposals for the governance arrangements for the borough's 186 town and parish council wards in 135 town and parish councils.
As communities change over time, government guidance advises a review of town and parish governance every 10-15 years, to ensure the arrangements are fit for purpose. The last was done before Cheshire East Council was created in 2009.
The review looks at a range of issues, including town and parish boundaries, numbers of town and parish councillors, grouping of parishes and warding.
The Community Governance Review draft recommendations report makes a series of proposals, beginning with parishes where no changes are being proposed, to other relatively minor proposals, and, finally, to more significant area or boundary changes – largely adjoining the borough's urban parishes – which have a knock-on effect for surrounding parishes. Maps showing proposed changes can be found via this link.
Councillor Sam Corcoran, chair of Cheshire East Council's corporate policy committee, and leader of the council, said: "Reviewing the community governance arrangements for all our town and parish councils is normal good practice and Cheshire East has continued this vital work despite the tremendous disruption caused by the Covid pandemic. It is to our council officers' great credit that this work has progressed in good time.
"The present governance arrangements predate the formation of Cheshire East and there has since been considerable change to the population, its distribution and to the borough's settlements.
"This review and the proposals in the consultation offers the opportunity to ensure that town and parish arrangements meet local needs and are fit for purpose for the future.
"There certainly won't be change for change's sake and any changes will only be adopted after they have been extensively consulted upon to take account of the views of residents, town and parish councils and other stakeholders.
"That is why I would urge people to share their views with the council via the online consultation on our website from 6 September."
A multi-disciplinary team of officers has been working on the review since 2019 and members of all the council's political groups will be involved in making decisions upon future governance arrangements of the town and parish councils.
Cheshire East undertook an initial pre-consultation survey between October 2019 and February 2020 on the scope of the review and topics and proposals that should be included. In June, a meeting of full council approved the decision to take proposals to consultation.
The public consultation starts on 6 September and can be accessed via: https://surveys.cheshireeast.gov.uk/s/CGReview2/
The consultation ends at midnight on 28 November 2021. Paper copies of the consultation can also be obtained from local libraries. The aim is to complete the process well before the scheduled local elections in May 2023.
This review of community governance does not include the electoral arrangements for borough council or parliamentary seats. These would be the responsibility of Whitehall (the Local Government Boundary Commission and the Boundary Commission for England, respectively) and are not currently proposed.