Community Governance Review

A petition was submitted to Mid Sussex District Council - supported by 3 of the 8 current Worth Parish Councillors representing Crawley Down.

Mid Sussex District Council are now mandated to perform a Community Governance Review to consider the request to divide Worth Parish Council to give Crawley Down their own Village Council.

The initial consultation closed on the 15 April. The second consultation closed on the 15 August. The Final Recommendations Report for Worth Parish Council is now available to view and will be discussed at the Mid Sussex District Council Scrutiny Committee for Community Leisure & Parking on the 28 September. 

Initial Consultation Results

Mid Sussex District Council’s Scrutiny Committee for Community, Customer Services and Service Delivery met on the 25 May to discuss the Worth Parish Council Community Governance Review consultation results; you can watch a recording of this meeting here

250 consultation submissions were received, 61% from Crawley Down and 39% from Copthorne. Of all the responses from both villages, 50% were broadly supportive of the division of the parish, and 50% were opposed to it. Of the responses from Crawley Down, 77% were in support of the division, 23% were opposed. For Copthorne, 2% were in support, with 98% against.

The Draft Recommendations agreed by that Committee state that:

“The current governance arrangements for Worth Parish Council should continue, and this Authority (MSDC) should consider afresh a CGR in 2025 or 2029 dependent on build out of any permitted developments affecting Copthorne West and surrounding areas.”

Community Governance Review Second Consultation 

The second consultation closed on the 15 August, with the Scrutiny Committee considering those results at its rescheduled meeting of the 28 September.

All electors in the parish would have received another mailing from Mid Sussex District Council (via post or email), with details of the draft recommendations from the first consultation, i.e. to retain the status quo for the time being, and advice on how to respond to the second consultation. 

The best way to have made a written submission is via this link. For this, you would have needed a reference number which you would have found in your letter and in the email you received from Mid Sussex District Council. Alternatively, you could have email your submission to  The deadline for responses was the 15 August.  

Worth Parish Council urged all residents to respond to this important local issue.  Worth Parish Council has submitted its response to the second consultation. You can read this here

Mid Sussex District Council has now published the Final Recommendations Report for Worth Parish Council. This will be discussed at the Mid Sussex District Council Scrutiny Committee for Community Leisure & Parking on the 28 September.  


Independent Report 

Following the first consultation of the Community Governance Review of Worth Parish Council, Mid Sussex District Council asked Worth Parish Council and the Promoters to provide revised budgets for both potential new village councils and a revised estimate of the costs of division.

At its Council meeting on the 30 May, Worth Parish Council agreed to appoint an accountancy firm, accredited auditors in the local authority sector, to draw up the requested information. Thus, providing residents with an Independent Report and Budget Estimates for the Proposed Split of Worth Parish Council.

Worth Parish Council will be discussing this report at its Full Council Meeting on Monday 25 July and will then submit its response to Mid Sussex District Council for the second consultation. We will publish this report here once ready. 

The deadline for the second consultation has now been extended by two weeks, allowing electors to respond to the consultation in light of the independent report. The deadline for responses is the 15 August.

What Has Happened Before Now?

Initial Consultation

All residents of Crawley Down and Copthorne would have received an information pack (The Terms of Reference for the Community Governance Review are included in this information pack) through their letterboxes the week of the 14 February 2022.  

Worth Parish Council encouraged all residents to familiarise themselves with the proposal and to respond to Mid Sussex District Council during this initial consultation. Please note that Mid Sussex District Council were particularly interested in views – supporting the proposal or not - so this was an opportunity for residents to express their views which are important to residents and the future of our villages.

During this time, Worth Parish Council organised public meetings giving residents the chance to find out more about the Community Governance Review and to ask any questions they had. You can find more information below.  

Please note: The decision will be made solely by Mid Sussex District Council, there is no referendum

This document aimed to ensure that the full consequences of a divide were understood and to have allowed informed responses to the initial consultation. This was important in ensuring a comprehensive view of both Copthorne & Crawley Down residents/electors was available to Mid Sussex District Council. 

Worth Parish Council submitted a response to the initial consultation of the Community Governance Review. You can read it here.

Community Governance Review Public Meetings

Four public meetings were organised to give the residents of Copthorne and Crawley Down the chance to find out more about the Community Governance Review and to ask any questions they may have had. Representatives from Worth Parish Council and the promotors of the division were at these meetings. 

Friday 4 March 2022 7.30-9.30pm at The Haven Centre, Crawley Down 

Meeting Synopsis 

Minutes of the Meeting 4 March 2022

Wednesday 16 March 7.30-9.30pm at The Parish Hub, Copthorne 

Minutes of the Meeting 16 March 2022

Two further public meetings were planned for April. It was agreed by both parties that the two consultation meetings scheduled for the 1 April at The Haven Centre in Crawley Down, and for the 13 April at The Parish Hub in Copthorne should be cancelled. Both parties urged all residents to submit their responses to Mid Sussex District Council by the deadline of the 15 April; a division of the Council would be a significant change in the local governance in the area, and your views are important. 

Cost Implications

The promoters of dividing Worth Parish Council published a proposed precept budget in the event of a Parish division including set up costs for a new Crawley Down Council. The Community Governance Review Working Party appointed by Worth Parish Council, examined these and felt there were several significant variances that should face challenge.

Below you will find an alternative budget that Worth Parish Council believe is a more accurate illustration of the basic budget and set up costs for a new Crawley Down Council. Plus Worth Parish Council's definitive figures for the anticipated cost of a division. We also wanted to demonstrate clearly why there is disparity between the costs suggested by Worth Parish Council against those lower costs quoted by the Promoters. 

Also below, is an illustrative budget for what would remain of Worth Parish Council in the event of a division - which would become Copthorne Parish Council.

The impact this would have on the precept portion of the Council Tax for residents is a potential immediate 11% increase for Crawley Down residents alongside a potential 35% increase for Copthorne residents. This equates to an average increase of 20% across both our villages.

Worth Parish Council Definitive Figures for the Anticipated Cost of a Division

Worth Parish Council Copthorne Budget Calculations

Worth Parish Council Crawley Down Budget Calculations

Effect on Band D Precept of Council Division

Worth Parish Council has previously stated “it is not unreasonable to conclude a division of the Council could cost WPC residents circa. £150,000”. We acknowledge the expectation that we should provide the rationale as to how this conclusion was reached. The first thing to say after seeking professional advice is, it is clear NOBODY – including the promoters – can state with any certainty at this stage the costs of executing a division of the Council. There are just too many imponderables within the complexities of the process meaning the final cost will not become clear until after a division if resolved.

Nevertheless, we have made every attempt to do this by obtaining evidence (informed by an FOI request), referencing the most relevant and historical case studies, and seeking independent advice from professionals with significant relevant experience. We still conclude that it is reasonable to expect that the combined internal and external costs at principal and local Council levels of preparing and executing a division of Worth Parish Council will exceed the £100,000 previously suggested to Full Council. This does not include HR costs arising from any division of the Council. Again, there are many variables here in terms of possible outcomes and associated costs. There is also the £20,000 estimated by the promoters as set up costs of creating the new Council. We must also consider the ongoing costs to both resultant Councils due to duplication of many functions and the loss of economies of scale. If you add all these factors together, stating that the cost could potentially be £150,000 is more than realistic in today’s terms.

Following the first consultation of the Community Governance Review of Worth Parish Council, Mid Sussex District Council asked Worth Parish Council and the Promoters to provide revised budgets for both potential new village councils and a revised estimate of the costs of division. You can find this information above under Independent Report. 

A fair-for-all, not a free-for-all

What is the Stance of Worth Parish Council?

Worth Parish Council as a representative body is neither in favour nor against a divide. Currently 4 of the 17 Worth Parish Councillors fully support the petition. There are concerns related to the lack of transparency and the way the petition came about - being submitted to Mid Sussex District Council without any discussion or case presentation to Worth Parish Council. We have seen little evidence that the proposed change will deliver the claimed benefits and do not have the information required to determine whether the considerable cost, risks and impacts of a divide are justified. Nobody should underestimate the complexity of dividing an existing Parish Council.


What are the Cost Implications?

The promoters encourage us to consider the 2006 split from Swanley Town Council to form a small Hextable Parish Council (about 10% of the original Council) as a comparable model. It is not a comparable example. A divide of Worth Parish Council would create a Crawley Down Council that would currently be larger than the remaining Copthorne Council. Worth Parish Council also has a larger consideration of property and assets, a more competent and professional employee setup operating effectively across both villages. There have also been considerable changes to employment laws since 2006. It is not unreasonable to conclude the divide could cost Worth Parish Council residents circa. £150,000 (deflected away from current and future service provisions) and will almost certainly result in an increase to your Council Tax - at the very least to Copthorne residents.


Why would we divide Worth Parish Council?

The promoters claim that the identity of Crawley Down village will be better protected. They favour meetings being held in Crawley Down, suggesting a separate Council will reduce bureaucracy and committees/meetings. We refute these claims absolutely. Worth Parish Council have almost completed a full review of their structure and processes that has already achieved most of these goals. A separate Council will still be subject to the same governance and laws as Worth Parish Council in any event. Each village has its own identities and everything Worth Parish Council does is mindful of respecting both the similarities and the unique features of both villages. In summary, the claimed benefits are already being realised without the enormous upheaval and cost of a divide. We remain to be persuaded that losing economies of scale of being a larger Council and having a strong voice as a substantial local authority is justified. Dividing is also counterintuitive to the anticipated direction of changes to local authorities.