Smallest councils want closer links with Barnsley town hall

A charter designed to improve the relationship between Barnsley Council and parish councils could be rebooted after falling out of use in recent years.

Tuesday, 16th October 2018, 9:32 am
Updated Tuesday, 16th October 2018, 9:38 am
Communication: Penistone Town Council is among those wanting closer links with officials in Barnsley

The document was adopted more than a decade ago and was updated more recently, providing the foundations for regular meetings between parish and town councils '“ local democracy at its lowest level '“ and the borough council. But Penistone Town Council has been told the system fell out of favour following the departure of Barnsley Council's previous chief executive, Phil Coppard, and parish councils were now keen to see the system re-established. Parish and town councils have members who are either elected or appointed by the councils themselves and have modest budgets spent to improve the communities they served, raised on top of Barnsley Council's council tax. They also operate as a voice for their communities, however, commenting on issues such as local planning applications, though the decision making ultimately rests with the borough council. The charter states: 'The Borough Council acknowledges that Parish Councils are a key component of the grass-roots of local government.   'By working with them and local Community Partnerships, the Borough Council aims to act in partnership with local communities, while balancing the needs of the wider community.

'In their role as democratically accountable bodies, Parish Councils offer one of the ways of shaping the decisions that affect their communities.

'They offer a means of decentralising the provision of certain services and of revitalising local communities.  In turn, the Parish Councils recognise the strategic role of the Borough Council and the equitable distribution of services that it has to achieve.'

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Coun Paul Hand-Davis, who serves on both Barnsley Council and Penistone Town Council, told a meeting of the latter that he had already been in discussion with Tankersley Parish Council, which was keen to see the system of meetings re-established.

Other parish councils to the west of the borough were also involved in talks over getting the twice-yearly meetings re-established: 'It was their conduit to raise issues. The idea is to get it re-instated, it is a consultation to see if they want to continue with it.

'I don't see why they would not want to have a stronger, fairer and more prompt relationship,' he said.