We have been asked by more than half of Dunchideock’s registered electors to consider abolishing the parish council. This is called a Community Governance Review (CGR). The request states that the signatories to the petition are strongly of the view that community cohesion and effective community action would be best served by the formal abolition of the parish council and its replacement with an informal community forum.
The parish of Dunchideock currently has 207 registered electors and an estimated total population of 270. The current level of 7 councillors gives a ratio of 1 councillor per 28 electors. The parish councillor to elector ratio within Teignbridge District for the largest parish electoral area is 1 councillor per 795 electors and for the smallest parish is 1 councillor per 25 electors. The average parish councillor to elector ratio within Teignbridge District is currently 1 councillor per 256 electors.
If the parish council is dissolved Dunchideock residents will lose their most local level of elected representation.
Elections in Dunchideock
The last contested election to Dunchideock Parish Council was held in February 2020 when two candidates stood to fill 1 seat.
The most recent ordinary elections in May 2023 were uncontested when only two candidates stood to fill all seven seats and were elected without contest.
This left the parish council inquorate and unable to co-opt to fill the remaining vacancies, so a further election was held in June 2023 where four candidates stood to fill five seats.
These candidates were also elected without contest and a new member has recently been co-opted to fill the remaining vacant seat on the council.
At the ordinary elections in May 2019, 8 candidates stood to fill 7 seats so the election was contested.
In May 2018 a by-election was contested when 5 candidates stood to fill 3 seats.
The ordinary elections in May 2015 were uncontested as 7 candidates stood to fill 7 seats, as were the 2007 ordinary elections where 7 candidates also stood to fill 7 seats. The ordinary elections in 2011 were uncontested when 6 candidates stood to fill 7 seats.
At the ordinary elections in 2003 8 candidates stood to fill 7 seats so the election was contested.
Casual vacancies occurring during the period between ordinary elections where elections have not been requested by the requisite number of electors, have been filled by the parish council co-opting new councillors.
In February 2018 three councillors resigned and, as there were already two casual vacancies on the parish council, the parish council was left inquorate and unable to act. As a result, Teignbridge Council issued an Order under Section 91(1) of the Local Government Act 1972, to appoint a sufficient number of willing persons to fill such vacancies so as to re-establish a quorum in the parish council and to act on behalf of the parish until an election was held to fill these vacancies. The willing persons appointed were the two district councillors for the ward in which Dunchideock sits and the relevant county councillor.
The number of candidates willing to stand for election between 2003 and 2020 would indicate there has always been sufficient interest in representing Dunchideock parish council. It is only since the resignation en masse of the entire parish council and parish clerk in February 2021 that there has been some difficulty in attracting persons willing to stand, or indeed, persons willing to be appointed to act.
The ordinary elections in May 2023 would suggest a lack of community engagement and interest from Dunchideock residents in standing for the parish council, with only 2 candidates coming forward. This may, in part, have been due to there being no parish clerk in post who would normally advertise and publicise the elections within the community. However, the subsequent election in June 2023 attracted 4 candidates and the parish council is now fully functioning once again with an interim clerk in post.
What happens now?
A consultation will run from Thursday 19 October 2023 to Friday 15 December 2023, to find out what people think about the request to abolish Dunchideock Parish Council. It is important to point out that just because abolition has been requested, there is no guarantee that a change will be made.
We would like to know your views on abolishing, what is now, a functioning parish council, or whether you think it should remain unchanged. If you think it should be abolished, what should it be replaced by?
When considering your response to the matter of whether or not the parish council should be abolished, you should consider the following points:
- Are you fully aware of the current arrangements for parish governance in Dunchideock and what would be required to continue as a civil parish without a parish council?
- The current parish councillors only took office in July 2023. Do you think they should be given time to establish themselves and the direction of the parish council before any further action is taken?
- Is it important for Dunchideock to retain its own unique identity and civil parish?
- Do I want Dunchideock to continue as a civil parish or should the area be de-parished?
- Do I want representation at a local level and what form should this take?
Do you think Teignbridge District Council should explore any of the following options:
- merging Dunchideock parish with another small neighbouring parish or parishes to form a common council, to which each parish will elect members;
- abolishing the parish council and making Dunchideock a parish meeting;
- abolishing the civil parish of Dunchideock so that it becomes an unparished area.
It is important that your views are submitted to us between Thursday 19 October 2023 and Friday 15 December in order to be considered.
Public consultation is a very important part of a Community Governance Review and all views received will be taken into consideration. If you intend to participate in this review and submit your views, you also need to give your reasons for holding them so that any misconceptions can be addressed when the draft recommendations are published.
Who else will we be consulting with?
As well as our residents in Dunchideock, we will also consult with the following:
- Dunchideock Parish Council
- Teignbridge District Council
- Kenn Valley District Council ward members
- Devon County Council
- Exminster and Haldon County Council division member
- Devon Association of Local Councils
- National Association of Local Councils
- Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
How do I have a say on these suggestions?
If you would prefer, you can write to us at:
Electoral Services (CGR)
Forde House Brunel Road