Community Governance Review Process - Information, Questions and Answers


Community Governance Review Process - Information, Questions and Answers

(A downloadable leaflet of this text can be printed off at the bottom of this page.)

What is a community governance review?

A community governance review enables a principal council such as Rother District Council to review and put in place or make changes to community governance systems and structures e.g. by creating a new form of governance for the council and / or creating merging, abolishing or changing parish or town councils in the review area.

What is community governance?

It is the way in which local communities are represented and governed at local authority level and through the involvement of other statutory and voluntary agencies and community groups and by the efforts of local people themselves. It is also about the way in which individuals and groups within the community are listened to and able to influence decisions that affect them.

How can a community governance review be instigated?

Community governance reviews can be instigated in two ways:

  • by a resolution passed by the principal council (i.e. the district or unitary council for the area);
  • by a petition signed by local electors as follows:
    • for an area with less than 500 local electors, the petition must be signed by at least 50% of them; or
    • for an area with between 500 and 2,500 local electors, the petition must be signed by at least 250 of the electors; or
    • for an area with more than 2,500 local electors, the petition must be signed by at least 10% of them.

Who can undertake a community governance review?

Since 13 February 2008, district councils, unitary county councils and London borough councils (all principal councils) have had responsibility for undertaking community governance reviews and have been able to decide whether to action the recommendations made in those reviews. In making that decision, they will need to take account of the views of local people. Principal councils are also required to have regard to the guidance on undertaking community governance reviews published jointly by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE). This document and more information can be found at the following link:

Who will undertake the community governance review of Bexhill-on-Sea?

Rother District Council is responsible for conducting the review within its electoral area. The Council has established a Community Governance Review Steering Group who will undertake the review in accordance with its terms of reference set by Full Council.

The Steering Group will be responsible for undertaking the communication and consultation strategy, analysing public consultation responses and making both the draft and final recommendations to Cabinet, via the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Full Council will be required to approve the final recommendations prior to the completion of any community governance order which may be required, depending on the outcome of the review.

Why is the Council doing this review?

The Council's current administration stated its intention to carry out a review of Bexhill-on-Sea to consider all possible governance options, including the parishing of part or all of Bexhill-on-Sea. Furthermore, in March 2015, Rother District Council received a valid petition that triggered the requirement for the Council to undertake a community governance review of Bexhill-on-Sea. 

What will the community governance review consider?

Specifically, this community governance review will consider whether an area committee or any other form of governance is introduced for Bexhill-on-Sea, including whether any new parish or town councils should be created within Bexhill-on-Sea or part of Bexhill.

What are the criteria by which options for the future will be judged?

Government guidance indicates that characteristics of good community governance to be considered in assessing the options when undertaking such a review include:

  • a sense of civic pride and civic values;
  • a strong, inclusive community and voluntary sector;
  • a sense of place - with a positive feeling for people and local distinctiveness;
  • effective engagement with the local community at neighbourhood level;
  • strong leadership;
  • the ability of local authorities to deliver quality services economically and efficiently; and
  • an area that is of a size that is viable as an administrative unit of local government.

Local people might consider these characteristics when submitting their views.

How long will the community governance review take?

Legislation requires community governance reviews to be completed within 12 months of the terms of reference being formally published. For this review this will be 12 months from January 2017.  

What must Rother District Council take into account when undertaking the community governance review?

Rother District Council is required to take into account:

  • the impact of existing community governance arrangements on community cohesion; and
  • the size, population and boundaries of any local community or proposed parish or town council.

In carrying out a community governance review, Rother District Council must also consider the wider picture of community governance. This includes taking account of well-established forms of community governance such as local residents associations and community forums. These can be considered as either alternatives to or stages towards establishing parish or town councils. Guidance does, however, indicate that parish and town councils are set apart from these other kinds of governance by the fact that they are a democratically elected tier of local government and can raise a precept, set a budget and possess specific powers.

The Guidance published jointly by the DCLG and the LGBCE specifically refers to Charter Trustee areas and states:

"Proposals to create a parish or parish council covering all or part of a charter trustee area need to be judged in particular against the following considerations:

a) the effect on the historic cohesiveness of the area; and

b) what are the other community interests in the area? Is there a demonstrable sense of community identity encompassing the charter  trustee area? Are there smaller areas within it which have a demonstrable community identity and which would be viable as administrative units?

These issues need to be taken into account in those areas with certain cities or boroughs which will be affected by any consequent reorganisation from the structural and boundary changes in the 2007 Act."

When will RDC consult during the process?

There are two opportunities for the public to contribute to the review. The first stage consultation invites the public and other interested stakeholders to submit their initial views on the future governance arrangements for Bexhill-on-Sea; this will be held over a 12 week period commencing on 9 January and concluding on 31 March 2017.

The second stage consultation will take place later in the year when the Council has formulated draft recommendations, taking into account the views that were expressed during the first stage; this is likely to take place during June / July 2017.

Who will Rother District Council consult with?

Before making any recommendations or publishing final proposals, the council will take full account of the views of local people. The council will comply with the statutory consultative requirements by:

  • consulting local government electors within the area under review;
  • consulting any other person or body (including a local authority) which appears to the council to have an interest in the community governance review (e.g. East Sussex County Council and Parish and Town Councils across the District); and
  • taking into account any representations received in connection with the community governance review.

How will RDC consult?

The Council will use a broad range of consultation methods including an on-line portal for comments, letters and emails, community engagement activities, attendance at community meetings, all of which will be promoted through the Council's dedicated consultation webpage, by direct invitation, media releases, elected Members, posters and leaflets distributed across the district and social media.

Will the community governance review change Rother District Council wards?

District ward boundaries are reviewed by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE); Rother District Council was subject to a Boundary Review during 2015-16 with the outcome coming into force in May 2019. There were minor changes within a small number of Bexhill-on-Sea wards to improve electoral equality (the number of electors that each Councillor represents); there were more significant changes within the rural areas of the District outside of Bexhill-on-Sea.  

This community governance review does not have the power to change any district ward boundaries, and any resulting consequential changes would require approval by the LGBCE.

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