RESIDENTS will be consulted on the name and status of a new council in Oxfordshire that has been more than eight years in the making.
The Harwell East proposals are designed to cater for the increased population between Didcot and the village of Harwell, including the Great Western Park development.
The area is currently served by Harwell Parish Council but under the plans, anywhere within that parish east of the A34 would come under the new council.
It has been in the pipeline since 2013 and was due to be rolled out in time for the 2019 local elections before being deferred “to allow for the community to grow and establish an identity and for further details regarding any unitary proposals (for one big single county council) for Oxfordshire (to be) discussed at that time”.
Vale of White Horse District Council’s community governance and electoral issues committee, tasked with overseeing the formation of the new authority, this week agreed to recommendations that now go out to public consultation, including a “working title” of Harwell East Parish Council with eight councillors to be elected in May 2023.
The committee will make the final decisions, scheduled for later this year, having taken into account feedback from the public.
Any new council will work underneath Oxfordshire County Council and Vale of White Horse and the current boundaries for those more senior authorities are set to be unaffected.
Councillor Sarah Medley, who represents the ward, said: “It is great to see it is finally coming to the implementation stage.
“Although I know that Harwell Parish has always given their best efforts to include the new housing on the Great Western Park side, the two sides of the existing parish are very much different communities.
“There is an existing, long-standing community around Harwell village and the new Great Western Park development is a community in itself. Residents there don’t necessarily recognise whether they are on the Harwell side or the Didcot side.
“There will be 1,400 electors in the new parish and of course that is only at the moment, it will almost entirely cover the new Valley Park development that received outline planning permission last year – 4,254 new homes.”
She went on to highlight a potential issue with the name of the new council.
Cllr Medley continued: “Many of the villages in the Vale that have an east and west have seen those areas develop together whereas we have Harwell village in the existing parish and then part of Great Western Park and the proposed Valley Park in the new area.
“This new community does not necessarily feel a natural part of Harwell.”
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