Braintree District Council vetoes parish split bid


- Credit: Gregg Brown

Residents of a tiny north Essex village who were seeking to break away from a neighbouring parish and regain control of their future have been told the move cannot go ahead.

Liston and Foxearth, which are near Sudbury but just over the Essex border, are separate villages but share a parish council. Out of the 250 electors in the parish, only 43 of them – and just one of the six parish councillors – are from Liston.

The application to Braintree District Council to dissolve a “Grouping Order” from 1976 which joined the two villages was announced by members of the Liston Residents’ Association last October.

It was the result of a long running dispute over plans to develop a former industrial site in Liston with up to 100 new homes, which would quadruple the size of the village. At the time, chair of the residents association, Allan Binks, said the decision to go for independence followed growing concerns regarding the breakdown of trust between the villagers of Liston and some members of the parish council who were felt to be “promoting” the Stafford Park development.

Mr Binks said: “Liston residents find it intolerable that the future of their community is being determined by a small group from a neighbouring village, whose lives will in no way be affected by any redevelopment of the Stafford Park site, whereas the quality of life of those in Liston would be seriously disrupted by the proposed development.

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“In the interest of good governance, we have therefore applied to regain control of the future of our village.”

But this week, Graham Butland, leader of Braintree District Council, said the application to dissolve the parish grouping had been turned down.

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He told the EADT: “We clearly considered the case put forward and the guidance that we paid attention to was that by and large one should aim to keep a parish as it is – especially if it has been that way for nearly 40 years.

“A split of this kind certainly shouldn’t be taken lightly and if you are going to do it, then it shouldn’t be over a single controversial issue.”

According to Mr Butland, since a new parish council was formed in May, there was hope that the situation could now be resolved. But he added: “In 2018, a community review will be looking at all parish councils and that would give another opportunity if the situation hasn’t improved to look for alternatives.”

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