Changes approved for Northumberland parish councils

County councillors have agreed to extend the area of a north Northumberland parish council, but also reduce the number of members.

By Ben O'Connell
Monday, 24th February 2020, 1:11 pm

At a full meeting of Northumberland County Council on February 19, it was agreed that Easington parish be abolished and the area transferred into Belford, that Belford’s three wards be abolished and the number of parish councillors reduced from 12 to nine.

The community governance review had been proposed by Belford Parish Council on the basis that there has been no council in Easington for some years and ‘recent efforts to generate interest have proved to be unsuccessful’.

The abolition of wards has happened in many areas, as it is the view that a councillor represents the whole parish and not just their ward, while it also leads to lower administrative costs for elections.

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A map showing the boundaries of the parishes of Belford and Easington. Picture from Northumberland County Council

The reduction in the number of councillors overall is simply based on the fact that there have been a number of vacancies at recent elections.

The proposals sparked 21 objections from residents of Easington, which currently has 106 electors, but the report to councillors stated that ‘it is considered that, notwithstanding the apparent public opposition to the proposal from those persons who responded to the consultation, residents would benefit overall from the services of a parish council’.

It adds that the reasons for objection related to ‘concern about the loss of identity arising from being a resident of Easington parish and an unspecified perception of a threat to the rural nature of the parish, neither of which is considered to be of such significance as to outweigh the benefits of local council representation in terms of effective and convenient community governance or to undermine community cohesion should the proposal proceed.’

The report further says that It is considered that Belford ‘is, to an extent, already carrying out the functions of a parish council for the residents of Easington albeit on an informal basis’.

The outcome of another community governance review, relating to the parishes of Amble, Warkworth and Hauxley, was also due to be decided at the meeting, but the item was deferred.