12:17PM, Wednesday 19 December 2018
Wexham Court and Brtiwell parish councils will be abolished from April 2019, following a vote by Slough Borough Council (SBC) last night (Tuesday).
Councillors agreed to hold an extraordinary meeting at Chalvey Community Centre in The Green to vote on recommendations from a cross-party committee to abolish both councils.
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, financial management, community engagement and delivery of services.
The committee said that both parish councils had not brought in sufficient changes having been set some recommendations following a review in 2013.
Colnbrook with Poyle Parish Council was also included in the review but was not recommended for abolition.
Speaking at last night’s meeting, Cllr Dexter Smith (Con, Colnbroon with Poyle) defended Britwell and Wexham Court parish councils.
He said Britwell was faced with significant budgetary pressures and that Wexham Court Parish Council was not given enough time to implement changes following an audit.
But SBC leader and cross-party committee member Cllr James Swindlehurst (Lab, Cippenham Green) said the parish councils had since 2013 to make financial and governance improvements.
Fellow committee member and Slough Conservative Group leader Cllr Wayne Strutton (Haymill and Lynch Hill) said: “I have real concerns over the governance and constitutions of both parish councils.
“Given the evidence, those that on the panel were left with very little options than to make the recommendations that we did.”
SBC deputy leader and committee member Cllr Sabia Hussain (Lab, Central) said: “It’s this local authority’s responsibility to ensure that parishes are regarded with the absolute credibility and accountability that those organisations and their residents deserve.
“Today we are saying that these organisations failed to do what they set out to do,”
Councillors voted in favour of the recommendations to abolish both parish councils at the start of the next financial year, after which SBC will take control of their assets.
The council says it is committed to honouring existing bookings at parish halls and that officers will ensure the transition of management of community facilities is smooth.
Resdients have expressed concerns that rates charged by SBC will be significantly higher.
In an impact assessment, SBC says it currently provides concessionary rates to voluntary and charitable organisations in all of its community facilities and that these charges are reviewed annually to ensure they adequately support these groups.
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