Chelmsford City Council

Chelmsford, along with the rest of England, is now in lockdown until further notice. You can find out what this means and get other useful information on our coronavirus updates page.

Community Governance Review (CGR)

In Chelmsford, we have three tiers of local government:

  • Tier 1: parish councils
  • Tier 2: Chelmsford City Council (CCC)
  • Tier 3: Essex County Council (ECC)

Each tier looks after different public services and represents the concerns of residents.

Over the next year, we plan to carry out a Community Governance Review. This involves looking at how the governance arrangements for Tier 1 are working, to see if they need to be changed.

Chelmsford currently has 25 parish councils as well as one parish meeting (Mashbury, an area with only around 80 electors) and one town council (South Woodham Ferrers, a large area with about 12,000 electors).

Around 62% of the Chelmsford population have a town or parish council, as well as the district and county councils. That leaves 38% of residents, who mainly live in the city centre, without a local voice.

If you don't have a Tier 1 council, we want to know if you think your local community would benefit from having one, or an alternative form of representation.

If you do have a parish council, we want to know if you think the community governance arrangements could be improved. This could be through changing the number of councillors or changing boundaries.

We are asking everyone who lives, works or serves people in Chelmsford for their views. We want to make sure that our parish councils are effectively representing the views, interests and concerns of the local communities they serve. 

The results of the consultation will help decide how your neighbourhood is represented in the future.

The last time we reviewed community governance arrangements in Chelmsford was some years ago. 

Since then, many villages and housing developments have grown. Many of these have crossed parish boundaries or have created new communities with their own local identity.

The role of parish and town councils has also developed significantly. Community Governance Reviews allow us to make sure there are effective arrangements in place to hear the voice of the community. It also means we can check that parish and town councils can efficiently make use of their new powers and responsibilities.

The review will consider if local people want to:

  • create one or more new parish council(s), either where one does not currently exist or out of part of one or more existing parish
  • set up or support the setting up of an alternative to parish councils
  • make changes to the parish areas by:
    • changing where the boundaries are between parishes;
    • merging two or more parishes;
  • make changes to parish arrangements by:
    • changing the number of parish councillors
    • changing the name of a parish

You can view the Terms of Reference for the review.

Any proposals we come up with must:

  • reflect the identities and interests of the community in that area
  • provide effective and convenient local government
  • be viable in providing services and promoting wellbeing
  • take into account other arrangements for community representation and engagement
You can read our full explanation about the different types of local government, and how parish councils work here in Chelmsford.

You can also find out how much parish councils cost.

After we have carried out the review, we could propose to:

  • change the boundaries between parishes, as a result of major developments that cross current boundaries. This would need to consider the legal tests and any arguments against changing them.
  • group parishes together under a common parish council. Each parish continues in name and retains a parish meeting but it elects representatives to the common council. This is useful where there are small parishes.
  • combine parts of existing parishes to create a new parish council. This may be suitable if a large development crosses several parish boundaries and where the area would benefit from its own parish council.
  • abolish parish councils. This is not a preferred option, and we would usually suggest grouping parishes first.

The review can also:

  • make changes to electoral arrangements within parish areas, including changes to the number of parish councillors or wards
  • change the name of a parish

After carrying out a review of areas without a parish council, the review could recommend:

  • leaving them as they are, so they do not have any governance arrangements at the very local level
  • creating one or more parish councils
  • choosing an alternative form of governance

As well as parish councils, there a number of other ways of setting up Tier 1 governance arrangements.

These are:

  • area committees
  • neighbourhood management schemes
  • tenant management organisations
  • area/community forums
  • resident/tenant associations
  • community associations

You can read more about these alternatives to parish councils. 

The process of carrying out a Community Governance Review is set out in law and involves two rounds of consultation.

Stage 1

18 January to 18 March 2021

We invite initial submissions from parish councils and the public, as well as other local stakeholders, such as residents and business groups.

Stage 2

19 March to 21 July 2021

We publish the feedback. Governance Committee considers the feedback and produces draft recommendations for Full Council.

Stage 3

21 July 2021 to September 2021

If Full Council approve, we publish draft recommendations and consult on them.

Stage 4

September to 7 December 2021

Governance Committee considers the results of the consultation and produces final recommendations for Full Council.

Final recommendations

8 December 2021

Full Council makes final decision on the review.

After the recommendations

Reorganisation Order made for any recommendations agreed by Full Council. The agreed changes come into effect on 1 April 2023 in time for Parish Council elections in May 2023.

Complete the survey online now

You can also complete and return the survey included with the leaflet we have sent to all households across Chelmsford. The return address is simply "Freepost Democratic Services".

The closing date for receiving comments is Thursday 18 March 2021.

You can read our CGR privacy notice.

More information

If you have any comments or queries, you can contact the Electoral Services Team.

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Last updated: 15 January 2021

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