Could St Albans see a new city council?

Should there be a city council for parts of St Albans without parish representation?

Should there be a city council for parts of St Albans without parish representation? - Credit: Archant

Should a new "local council" be created for unrepresented parts of St Albans?

As part of an ongoing review of community governance within the district, a natural consequence of re-warding brought about by the expansion of London Colney, SADC is considering establishing a new authority working on much more of a grassroots level.

Wards it would cover include Clarence, Cunningham, Sopwell, St Peter's, Verulam, Hill End, Marshalswick West, Bernards Heath and Batchwood.

Although the unparished areas do presently enjoy dedicated representation through 24 councillors elected to the district council, there are presently no voices raised wholly on behalf of only St Albans. This contrasts with Harpenden where the Town Council has developed into a mature and capable body able to provide worthwhile services to its residents and advocate on their behalf.

Through the Levelling Up White Paper the Government wants to make it easier for local people and community groups to come together and set local priorities and shape their neighbourhood, which would be compatible with the creation of a local council.

This would be funded by a precept paid by residents living within the designated area of the council, although an exact figure has yet to be established. Salisbury City Council has a comparable population to St Albans and raises some £3m from its precept. Locally householders in Harpenden pay about £50 per annum more Council Tax than St Albans residents for their Town Council.

Council leader Cllr Chris White explained: "A new city council would make it more difficult for councillors not from St Albans to interfere in local matters, for example pedestrianisation, although the downside would be it only works if you put up council tax.

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"The most important thing is creating the right method of governance for unparished areas, rather than specific structures. An alternative would be to give the existing City Neighbourhoods Committee more power such as a greater say over the management of assets principally used by St Albans city residents."

Any decision on the new council structure will have to be made by the autumn and implemented in time for the council elections next May.