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Wexham Court Parish Council residents demand 'will of the people' upheld

Defiant parishioners have demanded ‘the will of the people’ be respected and that Wexham Court Parish Council be saved.

Slough borough councillors decided last month to hold an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday, December 18, to vote on the abolition of Wexham Court and Britwell parish councils.

A cross-party borough committee, set up in April to carry out a Community Governance Review, has recommended both parish councils be abolished due to supposed mismanagement in governance and finance.

But local residents have backed their parishes, with 56 per cent of voters in an advisory poll favouring retaining Wexham Court Parish Council and 52 per cent choosing to keep Britwell Parish Council.

At a meeting of Wexham Court Parish Council in Norway Drive last night (Tuesday), Slough borough councillor and Wexham resident Mohammed Nazir (Lab, Baylis Stoke), who is not a parish councillor, said the decision to abolish the parish council had not yet been made.

But Cllr Sarfraz Khan, the parish council’s head of finance, who challenged claims of financial mismanagement said: “You know as well as I do that the decision will be as it stands.

“I don’t know why you say it hasn’t been taken.”

Residents expressed concerns about services currently hosted or provided by the parish council being taken away if Slough Borough Council takes over.

“Nothing’s going to change;the status quo stays as it is,” said Cllr Nazir.

He said the parish council’s remaining money would only be spent in Wexham, although one attendee at the meeting said rates for community facilities would ‘shoot up’ under the control of the borough council.

Many frustrated residents argued the advisory poll should be taken more seriously, with one person demanding ’the will of the people’ be respected.

But Cllr Nazir criticised the attendance rates by parish councillors. “More than 50 per cent of the parish councillors have less than 50 per cent attendance. Do I have to say anything more?” he said.

A letter from the Berkshire Association of Local Councils’ (BALC) chairwoman Ruth Cottingham to Slough Borough Council’s head of democratic services, dated Tuesday, November 27, said she was ‘dismayed’ to read of Wexham Court Parish Council’s proposed abolition ‘against the wishes of the local electorate’.

This was before the target dates for improvements in an action plan set out by the borough council, most of which are for May 2019, she said.

Parish councillors have undertaken training with her association, which is helping parish councillors to meet their improvement targets, she added.

BALC has carried out a Human Resources review for the parish and has written up job descriptions and contracts for its employees.

The letter adds: “The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) is concerned that decisions like these can be taken against local opinion and without any recourse to independent appeal.”

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