A message to all residents in St Peter’s from your Parish Council
On 28th November, Worcester City Councillors voted overwhelmingly to impose an unnecessary election for St
Peter’s Parish Council in May 2024 in order to synchronise with the City Council elections due then.
The Chairman wrote to all City Councillors in advance of the full council meeting, and addressed the meeting itself before the vote took place, setting out the cost impact upon residents and the fact that the Parish Council was only elected 6 months ago for a four-year term lasting until 2027.
The Parish Council had requested an extension to the current term of office by one year until 2028, which was an option
offered by Worcester City Council in their consultation exercise. This would achieve synchronisation of Parish and City elections by 2028 and avoid the unnecessary expense of an additional Parish election in 2024.
Not one City Councillor voted in support of the Parish Council’s position.
A contested election will cost £9,000 of St Peter’s residents’ money, as your Parish Council will have to fund the election.
An uncontested election will still cost £1,000. These are significant sums within a Parish budget of just £46K per annum and could have been used more constructively for the benefit of our community.
More detail follows:
Fellow Residents of St Peter’s, You may be aware that Worcester City Councillors voted tochange their electoral cycle, so that starting from 2024, all Worcester City Councillors will be elected at the same time for a four-year term.
This left the two Parish Councils, who had been elected for four year terms in May 2023, at risk of having standalone elections in 2027 at great expense. A public consultation was conducted by
Worcester City Council, on a range of options for the Parish Councils to transition to a new electoral cycle to coincide with Worcester City Council elections.
Both Parish Councils were consulted on this change, and asked to indicate their preferred option for this transition period. They met online to discuss the best approach for residents, and voted for Option 1, which allowed for the Parish Council’s current terms to be extended by one year and then fall in line with Worcester City elections from 2028. A joint letter was subsequently sent to Worcester City Council confirming this decision. This option avoided an additional, and unnecessary election before 2028, thereby saving residents money for beneficial projects in the Parishes.
The costs of an election are very significant for St Peter’s Parish Council, as we have to pay Worcester City for the cost of the election. St. Peter’s, it should be noted, has only a small precept income compared to Warndon.
In September 2023, Warndon Parish Council changed their preference to Option 2 on the City Council Consultation document. This required the existing four year term of office to be cut to just one year, and for additional Parish Council elections to be held in May 2024. Unfortunately, since Warndon did not communicate their change of option to us, we were not made aware of this until Worcester City Council informed us in November.
St Peter’s Parish Council maintained its position of requesting Option 1 on the basis of saving residents’ money.
For St Peter’s to hold a contested election in 2024, i.e. if more 9 candidates stand for the 9 vacancies, the cost to the Parish will be £9,000. Even an uncontested election, in which fewer candidates stand than there are vacancies, will cost around £1,000 (which is what happened in May this year).
The City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee, which includes the two St Peter’s City Councillors, voted unanimously in favour of Option 2 on 21st November. The matter then moved to a meeting of the full council on 28th November. Your Parish Council Chairman wrote to all city councillors in advance of this meeting to explain the cost impact of a further election being held in 2024, and to remind them that the Parish Council had just been elected for a period of four years in May of this year. He also addressed the meeting personally, explaining the cost factor in detail.
City Councillors then debated the matter prior to the vote being taken. There appeared to be a general level of ignorance of how Parish elections are conducted and no real concern shown for the unnecessary expenditure of residents money on an additional election. Your Chairman did not have the right of reply to what was being said.
When the voting took place, not one Worcester City Councillor voted to support your Parish Council. In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, and with all councils across the UK facing real economic difficulties, including Worcester City Council, it seems extraordinary that this decision has been taken.
Your Parish Council is shocked by the position adopted by the Worcester City Councillors. There is no right of appeal.
Your Parish Council is therefore
considering its position in terms of next steps, including the impact on next year’s Parish budget. We will ensure residents are made aware of developments that take place.
6th December 2023