THE creation of a new parish council for a city centre is set to discussed next week.

Durham County Council will be deciding whether to move to the next stage of the creation of a new authority for Durham City.

Earlier this year a majority of people who responded to the consultation said they were in favour of the parish council, which would cover Neville’s Cross, Elvet and Gilesgate and part of Durham South.

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Council officers have raised questions whether the authority should go ahead given the response rate was just 24 per cent, but have recommended that the authority should be formed.

In total 11,749 ballot papers were issued and 2,819 were returned, with 66 per cent in favour – which means 16 per cent of those consulted were in favour of a parish council and eight per cent against.

The report to be debated by council on Wednesday says: “Although the consultative poll is not binding on the authority, the poll undertaken was comprehensive in that all electors within the area were provided the opportunity to comment, and the vast majority were in favour from the limited return.

“Having considered the objections made it is considered that the proposed formation would be effective and convenient. “

The campaign for a parish council for the city was led by Durham MP Roberta Blackman-Woods, who says it will give people the chance for greater representation, and had support from a number of community groups within the city.

There was also some opposition however, including from the Whinney Hill Community Group which said it may not be the best course of action, suggesting that residents in the city already paid sufficient council tax and added that it might be preferable for Neville’s Cross and Elvet and Gilesgate to have their own independent parish councils.

If the council votes in favour of moving to the next stage, there will be a formal six-week consultation.

The final decision on whether the council is created is due to be taken in September. If approved, the new authority would be constituted in April 2018, with the first elections held the following month.

It is not yet known exactly what powers it will have as it would be up to the new authority to decide, but it will have a say in planning matters and will be able to set itself a budget to carry out improvements and projects in the city.

It will cost a Band D tax payer £34.46 in its first year.