Over 200 residents of West Adderbury have asked Cherwell District Council (CDC) to carry out a “Community Governance Review” to decide whether West Adderbury should once again have its own Parish Council. Many residents have now received letters from CDC asking for their views. A number of people have contacted us to ask for more information about the Review. Incidentally, most of the people who have contacted us are from East Adderbury or Twyford, who knew nothing about the Community Governance Review until they received their letter. In contrast, by Monday each household in West Adderbury will have received three communications on the issue, with WARA members being kept up to date by email.
The following answers address most of the questions received so far:
Is This Going To Split Up The Village?
There’s nothing in the Community Governance Review which will change the cultural and social links in the wider community. All that will happen is that the civil administration of the parishes will revert to the arrangements that were in place between 1837 and 1971, when both East Adderbury and West Adderbury had their own parish councils. Many residents will probably not notice the change.
The name of the new parish would be West Adderbury, as it was before 1971. We see no reason why people would need to change their address, and postcodes will remain the same.
Is This Just An Attempt To Stop The Development Of Community Facilities On The Milton Road?
It is actually quite frustrating to hear a number of residents suggesting that 200+ people have asked for a Community Governance Review simply to prevent football pitches and a community centre from being built. The concerns of West Adderbury residents relate to important issues such as traffic calming, flood prevention and fighting against further development. The Milton Road development is only relevant to the extent that West Adderbury would like to see the Parish Council spending money to address these issues, rather than spending all of the funds received from local housing developments on community facilities.
Will My Council Tax Go Up?
Truthfully, nobody knows, and anyone saying otherwise is pulling the wool over your eyes.
What we can say is that the current Parish Council plans to spend millions of pounds on leisure facilities which are likely to be very expensive to maintain in the future. Although some village groups have expressed an interest in using the facilities, most of these groups will not be able to pay commercial rental rates, and so it is likely that the facilities will need to be rented out for social events to pay for the upkeep. The Parish Council’s plans for the Milton Road site are very ambitious, and include a large hall, dance studio, meeting rooms, a bar and a servery, plus a separate area (including bar and changing rooms) for Adderbury Park Football Club. This will not be a cheap building to maintain.
There is nothing at all to stop the Parish Council from passing these costs on to the council tax payer. In contrast, a West Adderbury Parish Council would consult council tax payers to ask what leisure facilities, if any, they want and how much they are prepared to pay for them.
Weren’t The Previous East/West Parish Council Arrangements A Waste Of Money?
Even those of us who can remember the early 1970s have very little knowledge of exactly why East Adderbury and West Adderbury Parish Councils were combined.
Between 1966 and 1969 a Royal Commission on Local Government in England was carried out. This made a large number of recommendations for changes to local government right across the country. Some of these recommendations were carried out in the Local Government Act of 1972. This Act made huge changes to boundaries and to local governance arrangements, many of which had been in place since medieval times. So it seems that the merger of West and East Parish Councils was a small part of a much larger set of changes.
But regardless of the reasons for the merger back in 1971, the parish of Adderbury is a very different – and much larger – place today. Whatever arguments supported the abolition of separate parish councils for West and East are highly unlikely to hold water in 2020.
Why Don’t You Just Put More Councillors From West Adderbury On The Current Parish Council?
We have had several residents from West Adderbury on the Parish Council over the years and currently we believe there are four. The problem is that – even if every single councillor on the Parish Council lived in West Adderbury – the council would still have to listen to the views of the majority, and as West Adderbury forms just 23% of the parish, the majority is East Adderbury and Twyford. At the end of the day it is simply not possible for a single Parish Council to properly represent two groups with incompatible views and needs. The needs of West Adderbury will always have to be sacrificed to meet the needs of East Adderbury and Twyford.
Who Is West Adderbury Residents Association (WARA) Anyway?
A number of people have said that WARA are “anonymous”. Again, this is rather frustrating because details of WARA, including the names of the current committee members and the WARA consitution, have always been freely available on the WARA page of this website (and were available from the previous WARA website).
We say the “current” WARA committee, because the committee has been made up of different people at different times. We believe it is good and healthy to let different people “have a go” at being committee members, rather than allowing the same small group of people to remain “in charge” for decades.
As to WARA being “made up of ex parish councillors and a number of other residents mainly from Berry Hill Road and Horn Hill Road“, again, this is very far from the truth. WARA has over 250 members (West Adderbury only has a total population of around 700, including children), and has members in (almost) every road in West Adderbury.
Isn’t The Community Governance Review Undemocratic And A Waste Of Public Money?
Every community has the democratic right to representation which reflects its interests, needs and identity. The law says they have the right to challenge representation when it stops being democratic.
West Adderbury forms just 23% of the parish. Residents of West Adderbury have very different needs and interests to residents in East Adderbury and Twyford, The Parish Council cannot possibly reconcile the incompatible demands made by different parts of the current parish. West Adderbury, as the minority, will always lose out.
Democracy is not giving the majority what it wants at the expense of the minority. If the majority decided tomorrow that people called John should not be allowed to vote, we would not think it was democratic, and no-one would be telling them that they just had to accept the will of the majority. In the same way, people in East Adderbury and Twyford shouldn’t be telling people in West Adderbury that we just have to accept their opinion about the way we should live.
East Adderbury and Twyford have a parish council which represents their needs and interests. All West Adderbury wants is what the rest of the parish already has.
The law obliges district councils to make sure that parish councils are providing effective representation. This means that Cherwell District Council has to regularly review governance arrangements, and will probably be carrying out a district wide review in the next few years, so there is no additional cost in reviewing Adderbury’s arrangements now rather than in the near future.
Isn’t It Normal For A Minority To Be Outvoted In A Democracy?
Yes, of course and we don’t expect everyone to agree on all matters. If we were voting on village wide issues and problems but simply disagreed with the way forward on those matters we would accept that it was just democracy in action.
However, when we vote on issues that primarily affect West Adderbury, and we are outvoted by a majority who do not share our concerns, this is undemocratic and wrong.
When a majority systematically uses its power to deny a minority its rights, this is tyranny, not democracy.
Are West Adderbury Residents “Snobs” And “Elitist”?
Many of us have been shocked and saddened by the abuse we have received since our request for a Community Governance Review. It seems strange to us that some people are saying we are “one village” and should “work together in harmony” while at the same time calling us “snobs” and a “nasty little group of selfish people”.
The vast majority of people in West Adderbury do not live in “mansions” and do not drive “Chelsea tractors”. We do not think that we are somehow better than anybody else, we just want different things. There is nothing snobbish or elitist about wanting to have a say in your own future, rather than having your future decided by people living elsewhere.
We hope the above has answered some of the questions you may have, and that you now feel able to support West Adderbury’s request for its own parish council.
If you have any further questions or concerns about the Community Governance Review, please visit the Cherwell District Council website, or email WARA at firstname.lastname@example.org.