Village row threatens East Northants parish council future

General View: Thrapston:  East Northamptonshire District Council offices, Cedar Drive''Thursday, May 31st 2018 NNL-180531-124848009
General View: Thrapston: East Northamptonshire District Council offices, Cedar Drive''Thursday, May 31st 2018 NNL-180531-124848009

A row about council tax precept spending has threatened to split an East Northamptonshire community in two and close down a parish council. 

A bid has been launched by a small band of Fineshade villagers living in homes along the A47 to break away from their parish and form their own small community. 

The six homes are part of the Duddington and Fineshade parish but want to annexe themselves from Duddington and also other homes at Top Lodge in Fineshade as they feel that too much of the additional parish precept is being spent in Duddington.

A precept is an additional levy that parish councils can add on to a council tax bill of their residents.

However, the bid looks unlikely to succeed after councillors on East Northamptonshire Council voted last night (July 23) to keep current arrangements.

After a petition was raised by a small band of villagers a community governance review was launched into the issue in January and has been out to public consultation with residents, Northamptonshire County Council and Corby Council among those consulted.

Speaking at the meeting held at the council offices in Cedar Drive, Thrapston, Cllr Helen Harrison, who represents the Fineshade ward, said: “Although I have a great deal of sympathy with the petitioners, this is a neighbourhood that will work better as a whole.

“There has been quite a lot of falling out over this and feel it is going to take quite a while to smooth ruffled feathers.”

Reasons given by petitioners to break away include the 1.5 mile distance between the A47 homes and the Top Lodge settlement and the lack of provision of facilities for Fineshade from the parish council.

A report presented to councillors by democratic services manager Ben Smith laid out that if the Fineshade residents decided to break away it would take the current parish council electorate below the viable number of 150 electors and down to 147.

A summary in the report said: “The current arrangements in Duddington with Fineshade provide for parish services for 162 people. By separating into smaller parish areas, there is a significant risk of both the successor parish meeting of 15 electors and the parish council of 147 electors no longer being viable to deliver local services.”

None of the petitioners attended the meeting.

Officers recommended that no changes to existing arrangements are made.

The draft recommendations were unanimously approved by all councillors present and the matter will now be subject to an eight-week consultation and go back to the council on October 15 for final ratification.