A Parish Council for Forest Gate?

20 Feb

 

In 2007, the Government passed legislation which permitted the creation of community councils in London, with the aim of enhancing community governance in urban areas. These new community councils would have similar powers to the parish councils that exist elsewhere across the country.

Central government – both this one and its Labour predecessor – wants to encourage localism, a greater devolution of power and decision making to the lowest possible level. A Government white paper last year set out support for new parish councils and made it clear they wanted to see more councils established to take greater control over local services

Already local residents in Queen’s Park and London Fields have started campaigns to set up their own councils to change their community for the better.

Would it make sense for us to have our own council in Forest Gate?

It wouldn’t mean leaving Newham, just having some powers transferred into the hands of local people and an ability to spend money on the projects we consider priorities. For example, the new council would have to be consulted on any planning applications, such as the one submitted by Obsidian for the re-development of our town centre. The lack of effective planning enforcement is something that has long blighted Forest Gate Town Centre. Other possible powers which could have a positive impact on how we as residents could improve Forest Gate include managing community and leisure centres, establishing a ‘village hall’, street cleansing and community safety. It may even be possible to take over the local parking provision to ensure that it better reflects the needs and desires of the local population. 

The new council would be funded by a precept – an additional amount of money collected alongside the council tax. It might also receive a grant from Newham to enable it fund services it took over from them.

In order to establish a new parish council here Newham, as the ‘Principal Local Authority’, would have to first undertake a ‘community governance review’. They could decide to do this themselves, or we can petition them to do so. If 10% of the electors in the affected area signed the petition Newham would be legally obliged to carry out a review within 12 months. 

Together the existing wards of Forest Gate North and Forest Gate South are home to about 20,000 people, but the area covered by the council need not exactly match those boundaries. However, that makes a sensible starting point for thinking about this.

I think there are exciting possibilities here for local people to re-engage in the governance of our community, but what do you think? Is this an idea worth pursuing? Why not head over to Woodgrange Web and join the debate – http://bit.ly/yKo35I

 

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