Agenda item

Community Governance Review "Harwell East" final recommendations

To consider the report of the head of legal and democratic on final recommendations in respect of a new parish on that part of the current parish of Harwell that lies to the east of the A34.

Minutes:

David Marsh, a Harwell resident, addressed the committee in respect of this item. He stated that whilst the area of the new parish was geographically part of Harwell parish, with the street names in the area associated in some way with people who have lived in Harwell, it was clear that the residents did not identify with Harwell village. The inclusion of Didcot in the name of the new parish would not be appropriate as it was not part of Didcot or Didcot Town Council and could lead people to consider they were residents of Didcot. With the adjacent District Ward and County Division both being known as Didcot West a similar name for the new parish would cause confusion. He suggested that Western Valley, a name proposed in the consultation responses, would be appropriate as it referenced both housing developments – Great Western Park and Valley Park. 

 

The committee considered the report of the head of legal and democratic on final recommendations in respect of the new parish on that part of the current parish of Harwell that lies to the east of the A34. Attached to the report was an Engagement Report which set out the findings of the consultation undertaken from 16 August until 30 September 2022.

 

The committee noted that the consultation responses showed support for the committee’s draft proposals in respect of the style of governance, ordinary year of election, council size and parish warding arrangements.

 

As part of the consultation the committee had agreed to consult on a parish name of “Harwell East”. The committee noted that the majority of respondents did not support the name with the majority supporting reference to Didcot, specifically Didcot West or West Didcot. This clearly reflected the fact that a large number of residents in the area did not associate themselves with Harwell but identified as being part of Didcot in respect of their community identity.

 

Whilst committee members acknowledged that it was understandable that residents within the area identified with Didcot due to the geographical proximity to the town, they agreed that the inclusion of Didcot in the name of the parish would not be appropriate. Geographically, as Didcot is located in the neighbouring district of South Oxfordshire, a separate parish with Didcot in the name would be confusing, also considering that Didcot West is the name of a district ward and county division within South Oxfordshire. The view was expressed that residents within Great Western Park were a distinct community with a separate identity from either Didcot or Harwell having its own resident’s association. The name of the parish should reflect this separate identity. The proposed name of Western Valley would provide a reference to the two housing developments in the area, Great Western Park and Valley Park, and provide such an identity.

 

RESOLVED:

1.    That the new parish will be called Western Valley.

2.    That a parish council be established called Western Valley Parish Council.

3.    That the effective date for the new parish will be 1 April 2023, with the first elections for the parish council to take place in May 2023.

4.    That Western Valley Parish Council should return eight parish councillors.

5.    That the parish should not be divided into wards.

6.    To authorise the head of legal and democratic to draft the necessary Reorganisation Order.

7.    To establish a shadow parish council prior to the first elections in May 2023 and that the head of legal and democratic, in consultation with the Chair of the Community Governance and Electoral Issues committee, is authorised to make the necessary arrangements associated with its establishment.

Supporting documents:

 

Vale of White Horse District Council