A consultation has been launched by Wycombe District Council asking local people for their views on how High Wycombe should be run in the future.
The consultation, which runs for eight weeks from Monday 5th August 2019 until Monday 30th September 2019, asks people to say if they want a new town council for the currently unparished area of High Wycombe, new parish councils for Micklefield, Sands and Totteridge or to suggest any alternative option that they think might be more appropriate.
The consultation process with include an open survey, sampling and focus groups.
Four petitions submitted to Wycombe District Council triggered a community governance review of the ten unparished wards of High Wycombe. The unparished wards are :
- Booker and Cressex
- Oakridge and Castlefield
- Terriers and Amersham Hill
Until now, the ten wards of High Wycombe have not had a town or parish council(s) because they were represented by Wycombe District Council and the High Wycombe Town Committee.
The Micklefield, Sands and Totteridge wards have petitioned to have their own separate parish councils and residents of other wards have petitioned for a town council.
Because of the petitions and the changes to local government in Buckinghamshire in April 2020, Wycombe District Council is now considering the following issues:
- Would the creation of a new democratically elected town council for all ten wards protect High Wycombe’s identity and heritage, promote the interests of the town and represent local residents democratically?
- If a town council for all ten wards is not created, should the Micklefield and/or Sands and/or Totteridge wards each form democratically elected parish councils (that is, up to three separate parish councils)?
- Is some other option more appropriate for any or all of the ten High Wycombe wards?
Wycombe District Council has not made up its mind about how best to represent the interests of the town under the new unitary council to be introduced in April 2020 and wants to hear the views of local people before making any recommendations by December 2019.
Further information on the consultation and details on how to take part can be found on the Wycombe District Council website at www.wycombe.gov.uk/highwycombeCGR.
If a new town council were created:
- The Town Committee and the Charter Trustees would dissolve but the Mayoralty would continue.
- The Town Council would be democratically elected and have a role in representing residents on planning, local matters and local service provision.
- The Town Council would charge a separate council tax precept, with the amount depending upon the level of responsibilities agreed with the new Buckinghamshire Council.
If a new town council were not created:
- Up to three of the Micklefield, Sands and Totteridge wards could form separate democratically elected parish councils with five to ten members in each.
- These parishes would charge a council tax precept depending upon their level of responsibilities
If a new town council were not created:
- High Wycombe would remain as an unparished community without parish elections.
- Any services currently managed by Wycombe District Council and the High Wycombe Town Committee, and any assets belonging to them, would transfer to the new Buckinghamshire Council.
- The current High Wycombe Town Committee would dissolve, but the Mayoralty would continue and the Charter Trustees would carry on under the new Buckinghamshire Council.
- The new Buckinghamshire Council could also set up a Local Board for the High Wycombe area.
The consultation document can be found online at https://www.wycombe.gov.uk/uploads/public/documents/About-the-council/Have-your-say/Consultations/Community-Governance-Review-2019/High-Wycombe-community-governance-review-consultation-document-August-2019.pdf.
A community governance review (CGR) is a review carried out by a principal council of the whole or part of its area. The aim is to look at one or more of:
- The creation, merging or abolition of parishes.
- The naming of parishes.
- The style of parishes (for example town, village, community).
- The electoral arrangements for parishes (for example size of parish councils, number of councillors, warding arrangements).
District council wards and county council divisions cannot be altered in a community governance order. However a request may be made to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England to carry out a review for changes to district or county boundaries as a result of a local CGR.
A CGR can be initiated by one of the following:
- A valid petition from electors (minimum number of signatures required, depending upon size of electorate).
- A formal request from a parish council or a local member (approval is then required from the principal council).
- A decision taken by the principal council itself if it feels a review is appropriate (for example the number of electors for a non-warded parish is too large and makes a single election impracticable, or the splitting of an existing parish, or the creation of a brand new parish following the completion of a major housing development).