Since 13 February 2008 the power to create new parishes and parish councils, to alter parish boundaries, to dissolve parish councils and to abolish parishes has been devolved to district, unitary and London Borough councils (collectively known as "principal councils"). This process is known as a "community governance review".
Principal councils have the power to make a community governance review at any time for all or part of their district. It is envisaged that such reviews will occur at intervals of between 10 and 15 years, and will take into account population changes, the need for well defined boundaries and the wishes of local inhabitants. Reviews may also be triggered by a petition of local government electors for an area. A petition is deemed valid where it is signed by a sufficient proportion of the electorate (ranging from 50% in an area with fewer than 500 electors to 10% in one with more than 2,500).
At the end of the review process, which must be completed within 12 months, the principal council is empowered to issue a reorganisation order setting out the changes. This order may:
- Create a new parish
- From all or part of an unparished area
- By the division of an existing parish or parishes
- By the merger of all or parts of existing parishes
- Alter the boundaries of existing parishes
- Group or ungroup parishes
- Give a name to a new parish
- Abolish an existing parish and dissolve its parish council
In order to abolish an existing parish council, the principal council must provide evidence that this in response to "justified, clear and sustained local support" from the area's inhabitants. Where a new parish is formed with 1,000 electors or more, a parish council must be formed. Where there are between 151 and 999 electors the principal council may recommend the establishment of either a parish council or parish meeting. Where there are 150 electors or fewer a parish council may not be formed.
Reviews come into effect on 1 April following the date the reorganisation order is made. Where a new parish council is created, elections to the new body will be held at the time of next council elections. In the intervening period the principal council appoint the parish council from among their own membership.
Read more about this topic: Parish Councils In England