Parish council bid for Moreton Hall fails to win backing

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A bid to create a parish council for a Bury estate has failed to win backing from an influential committee - despite 85 per cent of residents who responded to a consultation supporting the plan.

County Cllr Trevor Beckwith has campaigned for Moreton Hall to have its own parish council to ‘give residents a say on local issues and how their taxes are spent’.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council consulted on the bid as part of its Community Governance Review of ward boundaries - with 196 residents including two borough councillors responding. Of these, 168 supported creating a new parish council while 28 wanted the estate to remain part of Bury Town Council.

However, St Edmundsbury’s Democratic Renewal Working Party recommended that no new parish council be created with three councillors in favour of the bid and four against.

Cllr Beckwith thinks the Democratic Renewal Party should now be renamed: “There’s nothing democratic about it at all. I took the trouble of asking Moreton Hall (about the plan) - I paid to get a leaflet to every household.

“I agree it wasn’t a large sample (of responses) but I take the view that if people were vigorously opposed to it, they would have responded. The parish council would be a democratically elected group of Moreton Hall residents who would have a say on things like planning, licensing and have a bit of money to spend around the estate as they see fit.”

The Moreton Hall Residents’ Association says as the town’s largest ward, the estate should have its own parish. Bury Town Council, which has three members representing Moreton Hall, argues it ‘would not be in the electorate’s interest to create a separate parish’.

In the meeting, Cllr David Nettleton put forward a motion to go ahead with the new parish in response to residents’ support for the plan in the consultation.

Cllr Pat Warby, chairman of the Working Party, voted against setting up a new council.

Given that the estate has an estimated 5,375 residents (based on an electorate forecast to December 2020), she said the consultation response was ‘such a minimal number and wasn’t representative of what was needed’. She said costs would be incurred to set up the new council and questioned how long it would take for a new council to have locality budgets to spend in the community.

On Cllr Beckwith’s criticism of the working party, Cllr Warby said: “There was no push to vote in any particular way - I let everybody have their say and took the vote.”

The Party backed a recommendation for a new boundary so that 500 new homes - deemed part of the Moreton Hall growth site, the Sybil Andrews Academy and new Business Park are part of the Rushbrooke with Rougham Parish.

The Community Governance Review will be discussed by the full council on June 28.