The creation of an independent parish council for Stoke Lodge and The Common, both of which currently lie within the administrative area of Patchway, will have significant financial implications for Patchway Town Council, a meeting has heard.
In a public consultation held last year, residents of Stoke Lodge and The Common voted overwhelmingly to split from Patchway and form their own parish council. Asked if they would prefer to form a new parish, join with another neighbouring parish (i.e. Bradley Stoke or Stoke Gifford) or maintain the status quo, more than 80% of respondents indicated their preference for a new parish.
In a report prepared for the December meeting of South Gloucestershire Council’s (SGC’s) Regulatory Committee, officers acknowledged the “substantial” support of local residents and recommended that a new parish be created, with the first elections expected to take place in May 2015.
The financial implications of a split for Patchway Town Council are revealed in the recently-published minutes of a meeting held in December, where it is noted that the Town Council stands to lose 30% of its income should the reorganisation go ahead.
According to the minutes, the new Stoke Lodge parish would be entitled to claim 20% of Patchway Town Council’s assets and would be obliged to pay 20% of the Town Council’s current liabilities.
The meeting was informed that the outstanding amount on a loan from the Public Works Loan Board at the end of December 2012 was £419,636, meaning that the new Stoke Lodge parish would have to take on a £83,927 share of this debt.
Councillor withdraws motion to bring forward date of split
Draft minutes of the SGC Regulatory Committee meeting at which the Stoke Lodge issue was discussed reveal that a Stoke Gifford Councillor unsuccessfully tabled a motion to bring forward the date of first elections for the new Stoke Lodge parish to May 2014.
Cllr Keith Cranney (Conservative) proposed:
“Members request, subject to agreeing the creation of a new Stoke Lodge Parish Council, that a report be presented to the next committee meeting setting out the implications of potentially bringing forward to May 2014 the first elections of any new Stoke Lodge Parish Council.”
The motion was seconded by his fellow Stoke Gifford Councillor Brian Allinson (Conservative).
In response, SGC’s Head of Legal Services explained that the creation of a new parish is a lengthy process and he expressed doubt that a date of May 2014 was achievable. Furthermore, having elections in May 2014 might mean that the new parish council would have to bear the costs of the election. It could also trigger by-elections for vacated seats on Patchway Town Council.
On hearing the officer’s advice, Cllr Cranney agreed to withdraw his motion.
Speaking earlier in the meeting, Stoke Lodge Town and District Cllr Brian Hopkinson stated that the new parish “would not require expensive offices, as they could use rooms that were available in schools and the church and would not require a full- time clerk.”