Legislation will deter parish councillors

EDITOR – Parish councils are run by volunteers in the community who give up their spare time for free.

Parish councils have had to adopt a code of conduct policy for a few years now so councillors can declare an interest on any agenda topic.

This code of conduct has now been changed, and along with it comes the Localism Act 2011.

This Act requests information about the councillors’ personal life and business, along with that of their spouses.

All of this information will then be displayed on district council websites.

If these forms are not filled in correctly and something happens in the future, there is a fine of up to £5,000.

Some of the requested information is sensitive and should not be made public (eg if someone is a JP, if a spouse works with controlled drugs etc).

It is drastic when community volunteers are asked for such information and then threatened if it is not given.

If somebody gets a criminal record because of this it can prevent access to countries like America, it can affect CRB checks for people working in schools, loss of firearms etc.

Bishop Norton Parish Council has five councillors planning to resign on July 28 2012 if this Act isn’t altered (myself included).

The Localism Act comes into force on July 1 and must be accepted within 28 days. It is another sign that English bureaucracy has gone mad.

Neil Flear

Bishop Norton Parish Council chairman