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Minister to 'cut red tape' for smaller councils

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Rules have been relaxed to make it easier for communities to set up new town and parish councils.

Communities minister Stephen Williams (Lib Dem) has set out new measures that he said would “cut red tape, improve the legislative process and help town and parish councils to play a stronger role in the delivery of local services”.

The current process for triggering a review to create a town and parish council is initiated by either a local authority, or by local campaigners petitioning the local authority.

Proposed changes under a legislative reform order could see the threshold for the number of signatures required to trigger a review of a town or parish council’s governance reduced from 10% of residents to 7.5%. The amount of time the authority can take to complete the review has also been reduced to 12 months from the receipt of a valid petition.

If agreed, the changes will also mean that neighbourhood forums can trigger a community governance review for a new parish council without the need to submit a petition.

The Department for Communities & Local Government said the new measures would “not erode the safeguards in the legislation or result in unsupported changes to communities”.

Ken Browse (Ind), chairman of the National Association of Local Councils, said: “The proposals to remove red tape [and to] simplify and streamline the current process are common sense moves. We welcome the continued impetus on the creation of more new local councils to deliver services to local communities and give them a voice.”

The legislative reform order has been laid in parliament and the DCLG expects it to take effect within the next 12 months.

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