The Conservative administration on Swindon Council’s plans to devolve the delivery of council services to parish councils has been overwhelmingly rejected residents living in the Stratton Parish. 87% of Stratton residents who voted in the referendum voted no to these services being devolved to the Parish.
There was a 7.87% turnout with 1189 votes cast and the vote was. 1033 against the Parish taking on responsibilities from the Borough and 156 people voted in favour.
Stratton Parish Council was the only Parish Council to offer its residents a referendum on whether to accept these services being devolved from the Council to parishes. Other Parish Councils have said they will accept these services being devolved to them without any consultation or engagement with their residents.
The devolution of council services to Parish Councils is part of the Conservative administration’s plans to devolve streetsmart services to parished areas and create new parish councils in non-parished areas to also deliver these services.
The turnout for the poll was 7.87%, however the Labour Group say the turnout was this low because residents were only informed of the poll a week before voting day, the polls were only open from 4 to 9pm and people weren’t able to vote by post, disenfranchising some disabled and elderly residents not able to get to the polling station at that time of the day. We are also aware of some residents in the Stratton Parish not even being made aware of the election.
The Labour Group point to the fact that residents did not want to be double-taxed for these services being ran by the parish, as the Borough Council were not offering residents a council-tax rebate for not delivering these services.
The Leader of the Labour Group, Councillor Jim Grant, said:
“The result of this poll shows that residents are against the Conservatives’ parishing plans. The Council is railroading their plans to devolve services to existing parishes and newly created parishes, without giving any opportunity for residents to vote on these plans. Now Stratton Parish has sensibly given their residents the final say and the residents have given their overwhelming objection to the Council’s plans.
I think this provides a shot across the bows of the Council and other Parish Councils who are failing to give residents the final say over the devolution of services. They need to rethink their approach and give their residents the final say through a referendum in their respective parishes and in the non-parished areas. Anything else is a breach of democracy.
The reason for the low turnout was because residents were only informed of this poll in some cases less than a week before it happened. Also the polls were only open from 4 to 9pm and people weren’t able to vote by post, effectively disenfranchising some disabled and elderly residents not able to get to the polling station at that time of the day.”