London took one step closer towards its first parish council for fifty years, after residents in Queen’s Park voted ‘yes’ in a referendum held by Westminster City Council on the issue.
A total of 1,100 residents in Queen’s Park voted in favour of establishing a parish council, whilst 508 voted against it. With approximately 8,000 residents in the area, the referendum saw a return rate 20.0%.
The formal decision in relation to the formation of the Queen’s Park Community Council will be made at a special Cabinet meeting on 11th June 2012 and extraordinary Full Council meeting on 25th June 2012.
Parish councils in London were abolished in 1963, when the London County Council was replaced with the Greater London Council. The power for London Boroughs to establish parish councils was re-established by the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007. To date, there have been no parish councils established in London.
A year-long review Community Governance Review was run by the council in response to the receipt of a petition containing 2,181 signatures seeking the creation of a community council in Queen’s Park last year. Over 400 responses were received to the review’s initial consultation, with 87% directly supporting the creation of the community council. The completion of a referendum has further enabled all residents in Queen’s Park to directly vote on whether they would like to have a parish council.
It is anticipated that the Queen’s Park parish council will undertake responsibility for a range of activities including coordinating community events, befriending the elderly, supporting young people and the unemployed, local management of Queen’s Park gardens, and launching a local allotment.
The Queen’s Park Campaign Group have set out their intention to levy a precept of between £3.30 and £3.70 a month or between £39.60 and £44.40 per year (for a Band D property) to raise over £100,000 per annum to pay for the set up and ongoing running costs of the parish council.
Speaking today, the Deputy Leader for Westminster City Council, Cllr Robert Davis said: “I am delighted that the residents of Queen’s Park have given a clear endorsement to the proposal for the community council. For Westminster to have the first parish council in London for fifty years would be a fitting endorsement of the Government's ambitions for localism and neighbourhood engagement.”