Kibworth merger poll vote today (Thursday)
A COMMUNITY where rivalry reigned centuries ago has seen battle lines drawn once more, as a proposal to group its two parish councils together is being voted on by residents today (Thursday).
People in Kibworth Harcourt and Kibworth Beauchamp are being asked to state whether or not they wish the parish councils to be joined.
People can vote at Kibworth Old Grammar School Hall today between midday and 9pm.
The consultation with the community of both parishes is a result of a governance review, and the issue is proving to be controversial.
The Mail found that although many people were happy to speak about the issue passionately, many were unwilling to go on the record with their views for fear of what others might say.
To give some historical context, the parish church’s website describes the parish rivalry via Reminiscences of an Octogenarian (1847 to 1934) by Edmund Arbuthnott Knox, a sub-warden of Merton College in Oxford who was rector of Kibworth between 1884 and 1891.
It says: “Kibworth consisted of two parishes once independent of each other, but long ago merged.
“At the same time the sentiment of independence was too precious to be lightly abandoned, and Kibworth Beauchamp, the home of stockeners, predominantly radical, despised, and was despised by, Kibworth Harcourt, the home of the sporting squirearchy and retired businessmen of Leicester.
“In Kibworth Beauchamp were many small freeholds, bought by stockeners who turned out hosiery on frames in their cottages, or in very small factories.
“In Kibworth Harcourt were several large houses, rented usually for longer or shorter terms by followers of the hounds.
“Between the two was kept up a half-playful antagonism.”
This is epitomised by the two 14th century entrances to the church, traditionally north for Harcourt and south for Beauchamp.
District councillor Phil King is the only one of the three district councillors not also a member of either of the parish councils.
He is against the proposal to group the parish councils together as he says there is no business plan to the idea.
He said: “I understand why this review has been instigated, but the proposal will mean that Beauchamp representatives will outnumber Harcourt by three to one on the new council.
“This in my view would be a mistake and lead to potentially over dominance by one village over another, and run the risk that the unique contribution made by Harcourt councillors over many years will be wasted“
In the minutes of the Community Governance Review held in October last year it was stated that a ‘grouping order’ rather than an amalgamation of the two would retain the existing parish areas but create a single elected council which would draw councillors from each parish, thereby locally electing and retaining representation for each parish.
In other arguments for the grouping, it is said that neither parish council can attract sufficient councillors, that neither parish would qualify as a competent council and that the parish boundary is very “artificial”.
The arguments in favour of the move also state that the joint parish council would create a sense of place of Kibworth.
It is said that it would reduce the number of councillors required with more chance of achieving a democratically representative council and that there would be no need to run joint arrangements – thereby saving time and resources.
Also in arguments for the grouping, it is said that administration costs would be lower.
Many of these points are disputed vehemently.
Arguments against a joint parish council include the loss of identity and historical boundaries and that Harcourt is opposed to grouping.
Whatever people’s views, they can now express them.
Cllr King added: “Since there will be no postal or proxy votes available, it is very important that as many people as possible do take the time to have their say”
A similar issues has reared its head before. In 2005 a campaign was launched for Royal Mail to recognising the two Kibworth parishes in postal addresses. Only seven people out of 461 objected.
And it is not the first time in recent years that KIbworth has gone to the polls in a referendum.
In 2004 villagers voted over a homes development.
In that case the village was very much united with nearly 100 per cent voting against the David Wilson Homes plan for hundreds of houses. In this case, unanimity is not a luxury.
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Weather for Harborough
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 13 C
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