11:30AM, Friday 15 March 2019
The decision of Slough Borough Council (SBC) to abolish Wexham Court and Britwell parish councils could face legal challenges, after both parishes voted to apply for judicial reviews.
The abolition of the two councils from the start of April was approved by SBC in December, following a cross-party community governance review.
The committee recommended the abolition of the two parish councils over concerns of governance, financial mismanagement, community engagement and delivery of services.
Both parish councils argue that they have made reforms and improvements since the review was carried out, which they say have not been taken into account.
One aspect of the review included advisory polls, in which residents backed their parishes, with 56 per cent of Wexham Court Parish voters in favour of keeping the council and 52 per cent choosing to keep Britwell Parish Council.
Both parish councils argue that democracy has been undermined by SBC pressing ahead with the abolition despite the result of the residents’ poll.
But SBC says the poll is not legally binding, and was only one factor in the community governance review.
Both parish councils have sought legal advice and have been told they may be able to get SBC’s decisions overturned through a judicial review.
Britwell Parish Council voted to apply for a judicial review on Monday, March 4 and Wexham Court Parish council did the same the following evening.
Wexham Court Parish council clerk Surinder Jabble said his fellow parishioners were ‘very happy that there’s a chance of retaining the parish’.
He said the two parish councils’ challenges would remain independent of each other for the time being.
When asked if he thought SBC would have to overturn its decision, Britwell Parish councillor Orlando Isernia said: “Unless our democratic country has gone to pot then I can’t see why not, because the people have spoken.
“People are disappointed that their democratic right has not been adhered to.”
An SBC spokeswoman said: “The council is confident that the Governance Review was conducted in accordance with statutory guidance and that the reasons for the council’s decision to abolish Wexham Court Parish Council are sound.
“The auditor’s conclusion was that the control framework in place at the parish required significant improvement and issues were identified where immediate management action was necessary.”
She said that SBC is still set to take over the assets and services of both parish councils from April 1 unless separate court injunctions are made.
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