Below is an article written for Vale Mail by local MP Sion Simon, who was consulted by Parmjit Dhanda, Minister in the Government’s Department for Communities and Local Government, about the setting up of a parish council in Castle Vale.
Sion Simon MP
This government has a genuine desire that neighbourhoods should, if they wish, have the power to create their own community or parish councils. There is not an inclination to impose parish councils on neighbourhoods, as some in Castle Vale had suspected might happen.
What is required is some degree of support for the idea. Not ridiculously overwhelming support, but enough support to indicate a level of desire and probable engagement. That is why the petition required to create a parish council is merely a stepping stone in the process. It won’t guarantee a parish council – it just guarantees the attention of the Secretary of State.
It would hardly be democratic if only ten percent of local people could impose on the rest of the community a body that would have its own tax raising powers. When Birmingham City Council conducted its own extensive consultation, the results did not indicate overwhelming support for the formation of a parish council; in fact the opposite was the case with only 75 in support of the proposal and over 600 against.
Castle Vale is the resounding success it is, not because of what the government has done to it, but because of what its own people have done for it. It’s what you do with a community that counts. That is why, ultimately, the decision about the parish council wasn’t really made by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The decision was actually made by the people of Castle Vale, whose voice has so often in the past proved to be the voice of reason. It is their voice that the government has chosen to listen to.