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Preying on the parish

Think of a parish council and you might conjure up conjure up

1. to create an image in the mind: the name Versailles conjures up a past of sumptuous grandeur

 Vicar of Dibley-esque meetings in church halls, full of squabbling tweedy gents and Women's Institute stalwarts. The government sees them as the potential future bedrock of community governance, but they are not generally regarded as hotbeds of political insurrection A rising or rebellion of citizens against their government, usually manifested by acts of violence.

Under federal law, it is a crime to incite, assist, or engage in such conduct against the United States.


Except in Lickey End Lickey End is a village and civil parish in the Bromsgrove district of Worcestershire, England. It is situated just north of Bromsgrove, to the south-east of the junction of the A38 (Birmingham Road) and the M42. , Worcestershire. Residents of the sleepy village (electorate 2,114) have endured a farcical far·ci·cal  
1. Of or relating to farce.

a. Resembling a farce; ludicrous.

b. Ridiculously clumsy; absurd.

 four-year dispute with the government. And why? Because they want the parish council abolished and the government won't allow it.

In the two elections since the council was established in 2000, the village has voted pro-abolition candidates into power (there are currently 10 pro-abolition members and seven anti-abolition on the 17-strong council). The pro-abolition lobby contends that the cost of running the parish council (£7,000 a year) is an unnecessary tax on local people because the community's needs are already adequately met at district council level.

"We don't need another tier of government," says Roger Griffiths, clerk of the parish council. "Local people have made it clear they don't want it."

Responding to complaints from residents, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister A Deputy Prime Minister or Vice Prime Minister is, in some countries, a government minister who can take the position of acting Prime Minister when the real Prime Minister is temporarily absent.  has insisted that the parish council should be given time to prove its worth, and claims that the case for abolition is "not clear". The pro-abolitionists are unconvinced, dismissing the suggestion as "nonsense and undemocratic".

It might seem strange that central government is getting involved at all when local people have made their views clear. But some at Bromsgrove district council - which at first backed the idea of setting up a parish council but now agrees that if local people want to get rid of it, they should be able to - are convinced that the ODPM ODPM Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (UK)
ODPM Objective Directed Project Management
 is digging its heels in for fear of political embarrassment.

"This has been a very strange saga," a Bromsgrove official says. "The government would be going against the grain of its own policies of promoting parish councils if it gave in and allowed one to be abolished."

Last week, the deputy prime minister, John Prescott

For other people named John Prescott, see John Prescott (disambiguation).
John Leslie Prescott (born 31 May 1938) is a British Labour Party politician, former Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, First Secretary of State and current Member
, announced plans to foster "localism lo·cal·ism  
a. A local linguistic feature.

b. A local custom or peculiarity.

2. Devotion to local interests and customs.
", with the introduction of "super parish councils". But if the local rebellion in Lickey End is repeated elsewhere, what has so far been a quirky parochial saga, could turn out to have much wider political implications.

The Lickey End row looks unlikely to die down soon. The 10 pro-abolitionists intend to stand again in 2007. "We might not win, but we won't give in," Griffiths says.

· Lickey End parish council is at
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Date:Jan 12, 2005
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