Barton residents consider forming parish council

Sue Holden outside the community centre

Sue Holden outside the community centre

First published in News

BARTON residents are hoping to create a parish council to help bring the community together.

The estate’s community association is planning to start talks with Oxford City Council about setting up the new body.

And they think it will help bring together residents on the existing estate and those who will move into the planned Barton Park development of 900 homes.

Work on Barton Park is expected to start later this year or early in 2015.

Sue Holden, of the Barton Community Association, said: “We have not got too much detail at the moment but one of the main reasons is because of the new development that’s going to start any time now.

“We just think a parish council will be the right way to go so we can offer more to the residents in the new development and the existing estate than we currently can.

“There is still lots of debate that has to take place and you cannot go into these things lightly or with your eyes closed but we need to get the process rolling and that will be to engage with the city council.”

There are currently 243 parish councils in Oxfordshire – including four in Oxford: Blackbird Leys, Risinghurst and Sandhills, Old Marston and Littlemore.

New guidelines from the Government state that to set up a parish council, the Barton Community Association would have to submit a petition to the city council which contains the signatures of at least 10 per cent of the estate’s population.

But areas with fewer than 2,500 local voters will need more.

If the petition is valid, the city council will carry out a community governance review to see if a local council should be created.

City councillor for Barton and Sandhills Van Coulter said he and his fellow Labour councillor for the area Mike Rowley are both in support of the plan.

He said: “It can allow the community to become more autonomous and I prefer people to solve their problems at the grassroots rather than solutions being handed down from the district level.

“It can also help cement the existing Barton with the new Barton.”

Parish councils have tax-raising powers and are generally responsible for maintaining recreation grounds and open spaces within their areas as well as public halls.

They are also consulted on planning applications in their area.

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