What’s in a name?

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Councillor Ballantyne recently raised the issue of the name of the Parish Council, and whether it should be changed to include Great Holm within it – ie from “Loughton Parish Council” to “Loughton & Great Holm Parish Council”.

This was first raised with me at a full council meeting and I hadn’t had a chance to think about it beforehand. My immediate reaction was negative. Perhaps I am too conservative instinctively, but there has been a Loughton Parish Council for hundreds of years and I am naturally resistent to change for the simple reason that it has been like that for a very long time, what is the need to change it. The Parish also does not soley consist of these two areas but a number of other areas too but it would be impracticable to have the name “Loughton Great Holm Knowlhill West Rooksley the Bowl & Elfield Park Parish Council”. If the Parish has to be named something, it seemed (at first) to me that no change was really indicated.

However, after subsequent reflection, perhaps my view has changed. the reality is that there are only two residential areas in the Parish – Loughton & Great Holm. There are about 2,500 dwellings in those two areas, roughly half each. Loughton may have existed since the Romans and Great Holm only since the 1980s but the reality is that the Parish now consists of two residential areas of roughly equal size, straddling Portway.

The membership of the Parish Council reflects this reality – there are two wards with 5 members from Loughton and 5 from Great Holm. Both groups of Councillors represent their wards and areas.

Therefore, whilst for hundreds of years prior to the new Milton Keynes was built, the situation may have been different to now – the reality is that there has been a profound change to the area and to the Parish Council.

The name does matter in some ways. If you google for “Loughton” you will readily find the website of the Parish Council. However if you google “Great Holm” you won’t. I expect that many people in Great Holm might (incorrectly) think that Loughton Parish Council does not represent their area or have anything to offer.

If the name of the Parish Council was “Loughton & Great Holm Parish Council” there would be clarity within Great Holm and elsewhere that the Council was representative of  and part of Great Holm. So as you will probably have gathered, I have probably come to the view that if a change of name was proposed, I would probably support it. I have never thought that the argument that “this is the way it has always been” has been that persuasive, and that change where it recognises a new reality, is sensible.

It remains to be seen however whether anyone else will agree with me, or think it is worth pursuing. But if so, it will be interesting.

Loughton Parish Council is currently consulting on whether it should change its name to Loughton & Great Holm Parish Council. Please take our 2 minute online survey to let us have your views on this issue.




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  1. Perhaps the use of the term “Parish Council” should also be discussed as well. The use of the word “Parish” suggests a link to the Church in some way, which of course is not the case with a Parish Council. This perceived link may put off some residents getting involved with Parish Council activities simply because they do not realise it is a part of local government.

    Walton and Woughton parishes are both called Community Council, so perhaps Loughton should become “Loughton Community Council” or “Loughton and Great Holm Community Council”

  2. Do Parish Councils change names as norm I wonder? Ie if they increase in area do they then change names ?

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