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Community Governance Review: Second stage consultation - Parish boundary between Bishop's Stortford and Thorley

East Herts Council has published draft recommendations for changes to the parish boundary between Bishop's Stortford and Thorley, together with revised electoral arrangements for Thorley Parish Council, to take effect from May 2019. We need to know your views before a final decision is made.

Have your say on the proposed changes to the Parish Boundary between Bishop's Stortford and Thorley by using our online form that can be found on this page.

What changes are being proposed?

The Council's draft recommendations are that:-

  • All of St Michael's Mead, which is currently split between Bishop's Stortford and Thorley parishes, should be incorporated within Bishop's Stortford Town Council;

  • The proposed housing development south of Whittington Way should also be incorporated within Bishop's Stortford Town Council;

  • All properties in Rectory Close, which is currently split between the two parishes, should be included in the area of Thorley Parish Council;

  • 6 to 9 Park View Cottages, currently within Bishop's Stortford Town Council's area, should be transferred to Thorley Parish;

  • Thorley Parish on its new boundaries should not be divided into wards, and the new Thorley Parish Council should comprise of five councillors rather than the current seven; and

  • The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) should be asked to change the District Council ward boundaries to align them with the revised parish boundaries above.

A plan showing the proposed new parish boundary can be viewed in the maps section below.

Why is the review being undertaken at this time?

The changes are being proposed as part of a Community Governance Review of Bishop's Stortford Town Council. This is a legal process which can result in changes to town and parish areas or electoral arrangements to represent local communities.

East Herts Council agreed to conduct the review following a request from Bishop's Stortford Town Council. The town council had proposed that all land north of St James' Way - including St Michael's Mead, the land south of Whittington Way and the Thorley Street and Pig Lane areas - should be transferred from Thorley Parish Council to Bishop's Stortford Town Council.

The town council also proposed detailed changes to the ward boundaries within the existing Bishop's Stortford area - please note that this is the subject of a separate consultation on the Community Governance Review: Second Stage Consultation - Ward boundaries within Bishop's Stortford Town Council  page

 

The criteria for making recommendations

In carrying out this review, the council must consult local electors and other interested parties. Statutory guidance sets out the criteria to be used when arriving at recommendations. Community governance arrangements should be:-

  • reflective of the identities and interests of the community in the area; and

  • effective and convenient

When considering these, councils must take into account the impact on community cohesion; and the size, population and boundaries of a local community or parish. They must also consider the number of electors in the area(s) under review and any change in that number which is likely to occur in the next five years.

The guidance further states that parish boundaries 'should reflect the "no-man's land" between communities represented by areas of low population or barriers such as rivers, roads or railways.'

Consultation and the reasons for the Council's recommendations

A first round of public consultation on the town council's proposal was held between February and April 2018. East Herts Council considered the results on 16 May 2018. A full report of responses may be viewed Bishops Stortford CGR - Report on initial consultation responses [6MB]

Most respondents did not support the town council's proposal. Many cited reasons related to over-development, preservation of Green Belt or opposition to development on the Whittington Way site. However proposals in relation to community governance do not determine whether or not development takes place, this is a matter for the planning process. The status of Thorley Village as a Group 3 village within the emerging District Plan will not be affected. The area of proposed development south of Whittington Way (Bishop's Stortford South) falls partly within the current Parish of Thorley, but not in Thorley Village itself.

Others did reference matters specifically relevant to the criteria. Many were concerned that if the town council's proposal was agreed, Thorley Parish would no longer be viable as an administrative area. Although most responses were from people living outside the area affected, a large majority of those from within that area were opposed to the proposal, and of these, most were from the Thorley Street and Pig Lane areas or Rectory Close.

In considering whether or not the proposal from the town council should be recommended, the council took into account the responses received to the consultation, the LGBCE's guidance on community governance reviews, geographical data, electorate projections and the recommendations of the Executive which in turn were informed by the comments of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee. 

The council recommended that some but not all of the areas identified by the town council should be transferred to the town council's area, and proposed some other changes to governance arrangements as below. You have until 27 July 2018 to comment on these:-

St Michael's Mead - This development has extended across the existing parish boundary which as a result no longer meets the guidance for such boundaries. St Michael's Mead adjoins the built-up area of Bishop's Stortford, within which most of the estate is situated. Relatively few consultation responses were received from St Michael's Mead residents of Thorley compared to those in other parts of Thorley Parish. The council recommends that the whole of St Michael's Mead should be incorporated within the area of Bishop's Stortford Town Council.

Land south of Whittington Way - Electorate forecasts based on planning consents and projections in the District Plan suggest that by February 2023 there will be approximately 500 electors living on this site. The current parish boundary runs through the site and therefore, when it is developed, the boundary will no longer meet the guidance. The majority of the site is in Thorley but the council considers that once developed the area will have more in common with the town of Bishop's Stortford, will be different in character to other parts of Thorley, and that future residents of this urban extension are likely to feel part of the Bishop's Stortford community. The council recommends that the site of proposed development south of Whittington Way should be incorporated within the area of Bishop's Stortford Town Council.

Thorley Street, Pig Lane and Twyford Bury Lane areas - The council did not consider that the town council had provided any compelling evidence that Thorley Street and the areas east of London Road and the railway, including Pig Lane and Twyford Bury Lane, should be transferred to Bishop's Stortford. It felt that these areas had much in common with the remainder of Thorley Parish and noted that a majority of the responses from Thorley residents opposing the Town Council's proposal had come from these areas. The council recommends that the Thorley Street, Pig Lane and Twyford Bury Lane areas should remain part of Thorley Parish.

Rectory Close - This road is currently split between the two parishes as the current boundary runs between numbers 4 and 5. The Council recommends that this anomaly should be corrected and that all properties in Rectory Close should be incorporated into Thorley Parish.

Park View Cottages - Numbers 6 to 9 Park View Cottages are situated east of London Road and south of the junction with Whittington Way but are currently within Bishop's Stortford Town Council's area. The Council recommends that the area in which these properties are situated should be incorporated into Thorley Parish.

Thorley Parish Council electoral arrangements - The original proposal from the Town Council would have left Thorley Parish with only 47 current electors. This would jeopardise the viability of the parish. Under the council's more limited proposals, Thorley Parish would have a current electorate of just over 220. The council believes that the areas included in the revised boundary of the parish will share the common traditions, sense of place and identity that many respondents have referred to. Given this and the relatively small electorate, the council recommends that Thorley Parish on its revised boundaries should no longer be divided into wards. Taking into account the relative size of other parish councils within East Herts, the council further recommends that the new Thorley Parish Council should comprise of five parish councillors rather than the current seven.

District Council ward boundaries - Any changes to parish boundaries agreed as part of the Community Governance Review will not automatically change the equivalent boundaries for District or County Council elections. In order to maintain consistency the council recommends that the LGBCE should be asked to change the relevant District Ward and if necessary County Division boundaries to align them with the revised parish boundaries above.

Maps

Please see the attached pdfs for maps of  the existing and proposed changes. The first map shows the existing parish boundaries in the area under review, including the current division of Thorley Parish into Urban and Rural Wards.

Existing Parish Boundaries Bishop's Stortford [309KB]

The second map shows the proposed change to the parish boundary. The proposed revised area of Thorley Parish is the shaded area on the map.

Proposed Parish Boundaries Bishop's Stortford [264KB]

How would residents be affected by the proposed changes?

Parish and town councils are the most local tier of government in England. They play an important role in empowering their communities, may comment on planning applications and manage or provide services at the local level.

The council's proposals would result in changes to the town/parish boundary. Some properties that are currently within Thorley Parish would be transferred to Bishop's Stortford and a smaller number would be transferred from Bishop's Stortford to Thorley. Starting with elections in May 2019, electors in affected properties would vote for councillors to represent them on their new parish/town council. They could also pay a different level of council tax due to differences in the 'precept' levied by each town or parish council. A precept is an amount charged by the town or parish council to provide additional local services. East Herts Council collects this money as part of the council tax and passes it on to the town or parish council.

The table below shows information about Bishop's Stortford Town Council and Thorley Parish Council. Information on services delivered is available from the relevant town or parish council.

Council

Electorate Feb 2018

Current number of councillors

Projected electorate Feb 2023 (on current boundaries)

Projected electorate Feb 2023 (on proposed boundaries)

Council Tax Precept 2018/19 (Band D Equivalent)

Bishop's Stortford Town Council

28,779

18

32,848

33,664

£68.69 per annum

Thorley Parish Council

513

7

1,047

231

£8.86 per annum

WE WANT TO HEAR YOUR VIEWS - tell us what you think of the proposed changes

The council believes that parishes should reflect distinctive and recognisable communities of interest with their own sense of identity and that electors should be able to identify with the parish in which they live. The views of residents and any submissions providing evidence of community identity or local linkages are therefore important considerations.

Please tell us what you think about the proposed changes by Friday July 27 2018. East Herts Council will consider all submissions received before making a final decision in October 2018.

How to have your say

You can provide your views on the matters in this leaflet or raise any queries by:

OR

  • writing to: Electoral Services, East Herts Council, Wallfields, Pegs Lane, Hertford, Herts, SG13 8EQ