A Bill, successfully proposed by Eastleigh MP Mims Davies to introduce background checks on parish council candidates and end horizontal multi-hatting in local government has been effectively scuppered by the forthcoming General Election.
Mrs. Davies delivered her Ten Minute Rule Bill on Parish Council Governance (Principles of Public Life) yesterday, hours after the Prime Minister announced she would be seeking to dissolve parliament in order to call a general election on June 8.
The Bill seeks to address ‘multi hatting’ – the term describes a common situation where a councillor sits on two or more different tiers of government, for example Parish Councillor and County Councillor.
In her speech Davies distinguished between ‘vertical multi- hatting’ where a councillor represents the same community on different tiers – which Davies said could be beneficial- and ‘horizontal multi-hatting’ where a councillor sits on councils in different geographical wards or divisions which she described as political ‘place-holding’.
The MP told the House of Commons:
“We need to ensure that parish councils are truly representative.
“However, the party politicisation of parishes in many areas sadly and brutally undermines that situation.
“There should be a restriction on this kind of horizontal multi-hatting so that people can get involved with community representation and political parties cannot simply block others from taking part in the community.”
Mrs Davies’s Bill also proposed that all candidates in local elections should be DBS checked at the nomination stage.
The MP said she was concerned that some people might abuse their position of trust as a councillor in order to get “inappropriate access to community places such as local schools and community buildings.”
Davies also called for more training for Parish Councillors.
The MP’s Bill was passed and a second reading date was set for May 12 but as Parliament is likely to be dissolved before then, the Bill will not proceed any further.
Mims Davies told Eastleigh News that if re-elected she would seek to re-introduce the Bill.