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Community Governance Review

A Community Governance Review (CGR) provides an opportunity to put in place strong, clearly defined boundaries, which reflect local identities and facilitate effective and convenient local government. It can take place for the whole or individual parts of the district to consider one or more of the following:

  • Creating, merging, altering or abolishing parishes
  • The naming of parishes and the style of new parishes/town councils
  • Electoral arrangements for parishes/town councils including:
    • the ordinary year of election
    • the number of councillors to be elected; and
    • the warding (if any) of the parish/town councils.
  • Grouping parishes under a common parish council or de-grouping parishes

We are required to ensure that community governance within the area under review will be:

  • Reflective of the identities and interests of the community in that area; and
  • Effective and convenient

In doing so, the CGR is required to take account of:

  • The impact of community governance arrangements on community cohesion; and
  • The size, population and boundaries of a local community or parish council

Terms of Reference

We have considered the requirements listed above when drawing up the objectives and questions that proposals for changes will be assessed against. 

We must also have regard to the Guidance on Community Governance Reviews issued by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Local Government Boundary Commission for England. 

Further details about the Community Governance Review can be found in the Terms of Reference (131KB PDF).

How to get involved

We invited comments from interested parish and town councils in July and August 2023.

Stage 1 consultation will be undertaken between 28 November 2023 and 31 January 2024. During this consultation, we will be seeking views and/or proposals about existing parish boundaries, numbers of councillors and if any new parishes should be created or existing parishes abolished or merged and where these should be.

If you are experiencing any issues with the consultation portal of if you would like a paper copy of the questionnaire, please contact us on [email protected].

Stage 2 consultation will take place from 25 April 2024 and 24 July 2024. At this point we will consult on proposals that arose from stage 1 of the review. Scroll down to view the proposals by area and give your feedback. Further details will appear on this page at that point.

The Full Council will consider whether to adopt any of the outcomes of the review in September 2024.

If you have any questions or would like more information please email [email protected].

Frequently asked questions

A Community Governance Review is a way for councils to make sure that, at the parish level, governance arrangements are working as efficiently and effectively as they should be. This is achieved by asking the public, parish councils and any interested parties whether they feel their communities are suitably represented and whether parish councils would like to see any changes made to their current governance arrangements.

We have the power to undertake such reviews under Part 4 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 and the relevant national guidance document.

A Community Governance Review can make a number of changes to parish councils when there is clear evidence to do so:

  • Creating, merging, altering or abolishing parishes
  • Change electoral arrangements for parishes including the ordinary year of an election, number of parish councillors and changes to parish wards
  • Convert a parish council to a parish meeting
  • Change the name or the style of a new parish/town council or parish meeting
  • Group parishes together under a common parish

A Community Governance Review cannot:

  • Change the number of district or county councillors
  • Change a district or county council ward boundaries
  • Change the amount of money that a parish council raises through your council tax (known as ‘precept’)
  • Change individual parish councillors
  • Create a unitary authority

The Council is required by law to draw up Terms of Reference for a Community Governance Review. As a minimum, the Terms of Reference must specify the area under review and be published. Terms of Reference can also include information such as the:

  • purpose of the review
  • issues that will be considered
  • timetable and procedures to be followed

Parish councils are the most local form of government. They collect money from Council Tax payers (via West Northants Council) known as a "precept" and this is used to invest in the area to improve services or facilities. Parish councils can take different forms but usually are made up of local people who stand for election as parish councillors to represent their area. They can be the voice of the local community and work with other tiers of government and external organisations to co-ordinate and deliver services and work to improve the quality of life in the area.

It may best be considered as a working alliance of parishes that have come together under a common parish council, with the electors of each of the grouped parishes electing a designated number of councillors to the council. It has been found to be an effective way of ensuring parish government for small parishes that might otherwise be unviable as separate units, while otherwise guaranteeing their separate community identity.

The council recognises that the grouping of parishes needs to be compatible with the retention of community interests and notes the government's guidance that "it would be inappropriate for it to be used to build artificially large units under single parish councils." A grouping order is permitted under Section 11 of the Local Government Act 1972.

Parishes or towns can be divided into wards for the purpose of electing councillors. Again, this could depend upon the size and make up of a proposed council. The government guidance requires that consideration be given to the number and distribution of local government electors which could make a single election of councillors impractical or inconvenient or it may be desirable for areas within the town or parish to be separately represented.

The government's guidance is that "the warding of parishes in largely rural areas that are based predominantly on a single centrally-located village may not be justified. Conversely, warding may be appropriate where the parish encompasses a number of villages with separate identities, a village with a large rural hinterland or where, on the edges of towns, there has been some urban overspill into the parish.

The review will be completed when the council adopts a Reorganisation of Community Governance Order. The Order will specify when it will take effect for financial and administrative purposes and when the electoral arrangements for a new or existing parish council will come into force.

Copies of this Order, the map(s) that show the effects of the order in detail and the document(s) which set out the reasons for the decisions that the council has taken (including where it has decided to make no change following a review), will be available  at the council's offices and website.

In accordance with the guidance issued by the government, the council will issue maps to illustrate each recommendation at a scale that will not normally be smaller than 1:10,000. These maps will be deposited with the Secretary of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government and at the council’s offices. Prints will also be supplied, in accordance with the regulations, to Ordnance Survey, the Registrar General, the Land Registry, the Valuation Office Agency, the Boundary Commission for England and the Electoral Commission.

An important part of our review will comprise giving consideration to electoral arrangements. The term covers the way in which a council is constituted for the parish. It covers the

  • ordinary year in which elections are held
  • number of councillors to be elected to the council
  • division (or not) of the parish into wards for the purpose of electing councillors
  • number and boundaries of any such wards
  • number of councillors to be elected for any such ward; and
  • name of any such ward. The government's guidance is that "each area should be considered on its own merits, having regard to its population, geography and the pattern of communities," and therefore the council is prepared to pay particular attention to existing levels of representation, the broad pattern of existing council sizes which have stood the test of time and the take-up of seats at elections in its consideration of this matter

Parishes wishing to increase numbers must give strong reasons for doing so. The number of parish or town councillors for each council must be not less than five but can be greater. However, each parish grouped under a common parish council must have at least one parish councillor.

The National Association of Local Councils provides the following guidance regarding the number of Parish/Town Councillors:

Electors Councillors
1 – 9007
901 – 14008
1401 – 20009
2001 – 270010
2701 – 350011
3501 - 440012
4401 - 5400 13
5401 - 650014
6501 - 770015
11,800 – 13,30018

Last updated 26 April 2024