Chelmsford City Council

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Alternatives to parish councils

We are currently carrying out a Community Governance Review. This is to work out if the local governance arrangements (such as parish councils) are still appropriate for the area.

Some areas do not have parish councils at all and the review will look at if any should be set up. However, there are also other options for local governance too. These alternatives are listed below.

Area committees can be set up by either Chelmsford City Council (CCC) or Essex County Council (ECC) and would cover a specific neighbourhood. 

They could advise or make decisions on specific responsibilities such as:

  • parks and play areas
  • public toilets
  • street cleaning
  • abandoned vehicles
  • planning applications

They can contribute to shaping council services and improving local service provision. CCC or ECC would provide resources for area committees, and their councillors will often serve on the committees.

There are no area committees with decision making powers at the moment.

Neighbourhood management programmes are set up by principal councils and may be led by one of a number of bodies. They tend to cover smaller populations than area committees.

They allow residents to work with local agencies, usually assisted by a neighbourhood manager, to improve services at the neighbourhood level.

Rather than advising or making decisions, neighbourhood management schemes aim to improve quality of life by directly carrying out functions. This can include:

  • better management of local environment
  • increasing community safety
  • improving housing stock
  • working with young people
  • encouraging employment opportunities

They are supported by relevant stakeholders and Local Strategic Partnerships.

Tenant Management Organisations are established by Registered Housing Providers (such as CHP, Swan or Genesis), rather than by a local council.

They are usually on housing estates and would be responsible for collecting rents and service charges, and organising repairs and maintenance.

A TMO is an independent legal body and usually elects a tenant-led management committee. They can also enter into a legal management agreement with landlords.

Area or community forums (including civic forums) can be set up by the principal council or created by local residents. They give communities a way to have their say on principal council matters or local issues.

Sometimes, forums are set up to comment on a specific project that will impact upon the local area, and so may be time-limited.

These forums increase participation and consultation, and aim to influence decision making, rather than provide services directly.

They vary in size, purpose and impact, but membership usually consists of people working or living in a specific area. Some forums also include ward councillors, and representatives from the council and relevant stakeholders can attend meetings.

These are advisory only, so don't have any decision-making powers.

These associations help people take part in local issues affecting their neighbourhood or housing estate. This can include the upkeep of the local environment, crime, anti-social behaviour, and housing management.

They can be set up by any group of people living in the same area. They can choose who the members are, how they will be represented and what they want to achieve.

On estates, they may be established with direct support from the principal council, as a way to communicate with residents.

To engage effectively with other organisations, these associations must be accountable. They must also represent the views of the whole community, rather than narrow self-interests of just a few local people.

Community associations offer a widespread democratic model for residents and community-based organisations in a defined neighbourhood to work together for the benefit of that neighbourhood.

They can use a model constitution registered with the Charity Commission. The association’s committee can also include representatives from the principal council. They usually manage a community centre as a base for their activities. Membership is open to everyone resident in the area.

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Last updated: 20 January 2021

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