Villagers in tiny community of Liston back move to ‘divorce’ neighbouring parish of Foxearth
- Credit: Gregg Brown
More than three-quarters of the residents of a tiny community that is seeking to ‘divorce’ itself from a neighbouring parish have voted in favour of the move, it has been claimed.
The villages of Liston and Foxearth are separate but they 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.
In August, prompted by a proposal to develop a former industrial site in Liston with up to 100 new homes – which would quadruple the size of the village – the Liston Residents’ Association announced its intention to dissolve a “Grouping Order” from 1976 joining the two parishes.
At the time, the group’s chairman, Alan Binks, issued a statement saying 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, which would see new homes, a pub and workshops built on the old Bush Boake Allen chemical plant. Detailed plans for the site are expected to be submitted to Braintree District Council in January.
In the meantime, as part of the process required to dissolve the grouping order, a meeting was held in Liston and a vote taken to gauge support for the move. According to parish councillor Tony Clayton, 76% of respondents voted in favour.
The district authority is now faced with deciding if the two villages should be allowed to separate. If Liston gains independence, it will be below the critical mass of population to have its own parish council and will therefore have no annual precept or budget to spend.
It will instead have to hold an annual parish meeting and appeal to the district council to fund any projects in the village, which current Foxearth and Liston Parish Council chairman Clive Thwaite believes would defeat the object of the separation.
He said: “I don’t think there’s a well-defined set of rules that exist for dissolving a partnership like this, because it is quite unprecedented. I think Braintree District Council is exercising common sense to make sure the democratic process prevails and that this idea is not being hijacked by a handful of extremists who are making a big and permanent decision based on the Stafford Park issue, which is a transient one.”