Establishing a Community Council in your neighbourhood – the technical stuff

Table of Contents

  1. Overview of Community Councils and the inevitable Tower Hamlets nonsense
  2. Establishing a Community Council in your neighbourhood – the technical stuff
  3. Current issues by James Frankcom, Spitalfields & Banglatown Steering Group
  4. Spitalfields & Banglatown Parish Council – Analysis and Comment

Be warned – establishing a local / parish / community council is a massive amount of work.

Here are some resources to get you started.

Related Internet Links

Essentially local people in a ward have to get a petition together which at least 7.5% of electors need to sign. If the petition is valid then Tower Hamlets Council have to carry out a ‘community governance review’ to see if a community council should be created.

These two young guys are proudly getting on with the work.
These two young guys are proudly getting on with the work already.

The Spitalfields & Banglatown Parish Council seems to be at this stage and you can find the Community Governance Review Phase Two Consultation Form here.

You should register your response right now, it only takes a few seconds.

Oh no! It’s the return of the NPF!

If a Network Planning Forum (NPF) has been established in the area then the whole process is much easier. Wapping residents may remember the nonsense that was the proposed Network Wapping NPF which was eventually knocked on the head. Too much work for too little (if any) power.

One benefit of the whole Network Wapping episode was that the precise definition of where Wapping is on the map was formally agreed by the council (trickier than it sounds) and that definition, known as the ‘Wapping Neighbourhood Planning Area’ would form the basis of any possible future application to create a Wapping Community Council.

Wapping Neighbourhood Planning Area (Sensible version not including Croydon)
Wapping Neighbourhood Planning Area, the sensible version not including Croydon. Click for larger version. Still doesn’t include Croydon though.

How is a community council funded?

Community councils are mainly funded through an annual ‘precept’ which in the case of Spitalfields & Banglatown will be equivalent to the cost of a Mars bar per week apparently – other chocolate bars are available – and they also get between 15% to 25% of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) collected in their area from planning permissions.

Which in many wards in Tower Hamlets could be a significant amount of money, especially somewhere like the Isle of Dogs.

It is still a matter of debate as to exactly how much Section 106 / Community Infrastructure Levy money from the massive London Dock development in Wapping ever got spent on Wapping. Not much is a good guess.

What can a community council do?

In law a community council has to be consulted on major issues so allowing residents direct dialogue to organisations like Tower Hamlets Council, the local health service, the Metropolitan Police – again without someone else spinning facts for their own benefit.

And possibly most importantly it provides friends and neighbours with a central structure for them to campaign on other issues.

In the case of Spitalfields the campaign organisers claim that they will be able to provide a wide variety of benefits.

  • Better local representation
  • Stronger community identity
  • Better financial oversight of local events
  • Mother-tongue classes
  • Help for struggling businesses in Brick Lane
  • More security to reduce ASB and crime
  • Public toilets
  • Recycling bins for street waste
  • Less litter
  • More trees
  • Cleaner and greener parks and gardens
  • Local advocacy on planning and licensing issues
  • A united community working together
  • New opportunities to help your community
  • Coordinated booking for community facilities

How would a community council help people on lower incomes?

There are three major social housing estates in our area – Chicksand Estate, Holland Estate and Flower & Dean Estate – and they are amongst the poorest in Tower Hamlets, and in London. All these estates will be in the proposal under any boundary option.

People living in these estates should benefit from this proposal. The population of these estates constitute more than half the total population of the whole proposed community council area.

People from those estates can stand for election to the parish/town council as independents meaning they won’t have to play politics all their lives.They will also be able to elect their neighbours as their representative.

What could a Wapping community council do?

In Wapping a community council could mean proper local representation instead of promises during elections that are not kept when in power, better funding and financial oversight of events such as the Wapping Shindig and the Christmas Tree lights, better help for local businesses such as Husseys and all the other shops in Wapping Lane like the bakers, the mini-markets, the off-licence and Cinnamon and proper control of our community centres – such as they are.

Dancing at the Wapping Shindig
Dancing at the Wapping Shindig on Wapping Green

Sorting out the continuing problems of traffic in Wapping could be done properly so residents would no longer be sitting in a traffic jam in Wapping Wall during rush hour and then jumping for their lives the same evening to avoid the boy racers.

Let’s buy those sheep!

Other essential local resources like our amazing pubs could be engaged with and a Wapping community council could even work with community gathering points such as the Turks Head Cafe to enhance its use by the community and organisations like Tobacco Dock and the London Dock development.

Maybe a Wapping community council could even sort out E1W’s broadband problem? And we don’t mean putting sheep on Wapping Green and applying for rural broadband grants.

Or do we?


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