Thursday, 2 February 2012

Parish is a loaded term

An odd tale has been reported about the church leaders setting up a parish council in Mayfair. This is impossible as a parish council is a civil organisation. It isn't clear where the misunderstanding is coming from, either the church leaders, or the Evening Standard reporter, or both. What it does perhaps highlight is the problem with the nomenclature. The word 'parish' is instantly linked to the church, even though the connection between the two organisations has been broken for over 100 years.
Legislation in 1855 broke any connection between the church
of St George Hanover Square and civil administration

Perhaps it was wise that the 2007 legislation that enabled these councils in London made the change to allow them to be called community or neighbourhood councils instead of parish. They already had the right to be called a town council if they so desired. It might be time to drop the 'parish' name altogether, at least for new creations, and in particular in urban areas unfamiliar with the concept of a civil parish. Although it was reported that a 'church parish council' existed in Mayfair until 1899, this is false. Parish councils never existed in central London and even where they did they were never in any way connected to the church.