EDITORIAL - ‘Future of parish councils in focus’

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Parish councillors existed a long time before any notion of the ‘Big Society’.

There’s no financial reward, sometimes a bit of grief and not always a lot of thanks.

Yet the role they play in local democracy, and village life in general, is very important.

So it is a shame to learn Stuston Parish Council is to fold at the end of March after about 40 years, while it is also worrying to hear Starston is anxious about its future.

When it comes to democracy there is nothing quite as grassroots as speaking to your parish councillor who might live only a few doors down.

You only need look at the efforts by parish councils to represent their communities with the proposed Eye power station, or how Bridgham Parish Council was a mouthpiece against a failed solar farm planning bid in the village.

The alternative for small parishes - a parish meeting, can work, and seems to offer some exciting potential for whole-community participation. But in Starston, the prospect of affairs being taken over by the district council is not something which the current council chairman thinks would benefit the village.

A strong, enthusiastic parish council is irreplaceable.