01:08PM, Wednesday 28 November 2018
The futures of Britwell and Wexham Court parish councils are hanging by a thread following a Slough Borough Council (SBC) meeting last night (Tuesday).
In April, the council agreed to carry out a Community Governance Review including parish council arrangements — using a cross party committee — which had concerns over the parish council’s governance, community engagement and delivery of services.
At the meeting at The Curve in William Stree, SBC leader Cllr James Swindlehurst (Lab, Cippenham Green) and review committee member said the parish councils had not brought in sufficient governance changes as recommended by the borough following a review in 2013.
Part of this year’s review featured a public consultation including an advisory poll, asking if Britwell Parish Council should be abolished, if Wexham Court Parish council should be reduced in size or abolished and if Colnbrook Parish Council provides effective services and resident engagement.
From the 1805 eligible Britwell voters, 30.14 per cent voted, 51.9 per cent asking to keep the parish council and 48 per cent voting to scrap it.
Of the 3686 eligible Wexham voters, there was a 25.83 per cent turnout, with 43.6 per cent of voters in favour of abolition and 56.4 per cent asking to keep the parish council.
Cabinet member for planning and transport Cllr Martin Carter (Lab, Britwell and Northborough), who said he was elected as a parish councillor in 2014 on the ticket of having it abolished said that the poll was only advisory.
He added: “I haven’t noticed significant improvement in the delivery of the parish.”
Review committee member and Slough Conservative Group leader Cllr Wayne Strutton (Haymill and Lynch Hill) said: “Unless they came to us to say they’re willing to make changes to that governance, we’re left with very little option, especially in the case of Wexham. We did note that Britwell had made some changes.”
Wexham Court and Britwell parish council representatives spoke at the meeting, emphasising the number of community activities facilitated in their parish halls, although there is no suggestion these activities could not continue under SBC.
Cllr Swindlehurst said Orlando Isernia was ‘misrepresenting’ himself as Britwell Parish Council chairman as he had been disqualified from being a councillor for withholding information which would make him ineligible to be in office.
The Mayor of Slough Cllr Paul Sohal (Lab, Wexham Lea) said he was entitled to represent the parish council as a citizen but not as chairman.
Councillors voted to hold an extraordinary meeting on December 18 to vote on the recommendations to abolish Britwell and Wexham Court parish councils in 2019/18.
They also agreed to urge Colnbrook Parish Council to consider the community poll, in which 53.6 per cent of 1193 voters said they thought the parish council provided effective services and community engagement.
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