Many people associate parishes with churches and villages and for much of history since the Romans left in 410 this has been the case.
Today many villages have become towns and have coalesced with their neighbours. On occasion they have developed into vast conurbations. Reorganizations over the last hundred and fifty years has meant that the parishes have been amalgamated and there has been a loss of local accountability and decision making. Present day Birmingham has over one million people and all of the constituent parishes have been abolished.
Under localism decision making should be as local as possible so the default position for any decision making should be the parish. The assumption should be that any service will be provided by the parish but in many cases the practical solution would be for a larger body to act on the parishes behalf.
Some parishes would have so few people that they could not sustain themselves so would have to demote themselves and join another parish.
What would be the requirements for a parish?
A parish would need to be around 10km2 and only exceptionally be smaller than 3km2. This size has served us for over a thousand years.
It would have to have the wherewithal to provide:
- a shop – including a post office
- a place to socialise, eat and drink
- library and information outlet and broadband access
- schooling for children up to 8 years old
- basic medical help and social care
- maintenance for its streets and lanes
- a supply for affordable housing
Each parish would have one village and all of the these services would be provided in the centre of that village. The village would have its own green belt beyond 800m from the centre. Within its green belt development would be heavily constrained (much stricter than our present green belt).
In Elmbridge the parishes would be Claygate (the only current parish), Cobham, Ditton, Esher, Hersham, Molesey, Oxshott, Walton and Weybridge. Further candidates could be Downside, East Molesey, Long Ditton, Oatlands, Stoke D’Abernon, Thames Ditton and West Molesey but might fall foul of the size rule.