government for secretly labelling parishes as 'barely active' and
England into performance categories by the Countryside Agency, without even
consulting local communities.
'The government's secret labelling of parishes as 'lazy' and 'inactive' is
an insult to every hard-working parish councillor and volunteer. Parishes
and parish councils play a vital role in community life, a fact lost on
distant Whitehall pen-pushers and quangos.
'This insensitive move comes on top of Labour's new red-tape for parish
councils, which entail soaring audit costs and discourage volunteers from
getting involved. Rubbishing our parish councils is probably only the first
step in a systematic campaign from London - I fear it could pave the way for
Labour to attempt to abolish parish councils completely.'
* In answers to parliamentary questions on 24 January, the government
revealed it is in the process of grading all parishes into performance
categories (HC Debs, col. 1033-4W, 24 January 2002) - either 'vibrant',
'active', 'barely active' or 'sleeping', based on a survey of parish council
clerks. The grading was conducted by the Countryside Agency, a government
* Government minister, Alun Michael, has admitted 'consultation was
not done directly with individual communities' and 'individual parish scores
were not intended to be published'. However Conservatives have obtained the
otherwise buried scores via the independent house of commons library.
* These new performance gradings come after it was revealed that many
parish councils are facing soaring audit costs due to the introduction of
'best value' and 'quality parish council' bureaucracy, as well as facing new
draconian codes of conduct that will force parish councillors to reveal in
public personal details about their families' and relatives' finances,
property and employment.
Example of the survey:
Parish Council Local Authority Designation
Blindbothel Allerdale Barely Active Parish
Bothel And Threapland Allerdale Barely Active Parish
Bridekirk Allerdale Barely Active Parish
Camerton Allerdale Barely Active Parish
Dundraw Allerdale Sleeping Parish
Greysouthen Allerdale Barely Active Parish
Holme Abbey Allerdale Sleeping Parish
Holme Low Allerdale Sleeping Parish