I’m writing in response to the chaotic way the Council have proceeded to set up new parish councils. After the Conservative administration forced new parish councils to be set up in November, you might have expected Swindon Council to be fully prepared for these new organisations, with full information available to them about the types of services, open spaces and community buildings they wished to transfer to the new parish councils.
Instead while sitting on the new Parish Councils to agree this transfer, Councillors have been provided little information about the land, property and services being transferred to the new parish councils, Councillors have had little or no time to review the borough council’s offer to provide services to the new parishes and have been given conflicting and confusing advice over the date by which the new parish councils had to set their precept.
The fact of the matter is that the new Shadow Parish Boards are not in a place to be able to make fully informed decisions about the transfer of council services, open spaces and community buildings, let alone set a substantial parish precept.
Swindon Borough Council take a whole year to set a budget and agree their council-tax rate, they are expecting new parishes to agree the transfer of services, open spaces and property, as well as set a precept, over the course of just one month.
This is why at the next Full Council Meeting the Labour Group will be calling for a one-year extension of the transfer of assets and services to new parish councils. We believe this will give more time for the newly elected parish councillors on the new parish councils, serviced by officers independent of Swindon Borough Council, to negotiate the transfer of services and assets to the borough.
More time to consider these issues will help the new parish councils make informed decisions and give them time to properly negotiate with Swindon Council, to ensure the people living in these parishes are getting value for money from the services they’re paying for.