TOWN and parish councils are the grassroots of our communities - but the reality is that many people have little realisation what they do or who is on them.

Yvonne Rose, the woman behind the attempt to merge the Bedale and Aiskew councils, says many people didn’t even realise the two were actually separate entities.

So now the bureaucratic exercise of asking people what they think and what they want is to be carried out.

The fact that it is going to cost £20,000 at a time when all local government budgets are under fire is concerning and so brings into doubt the reasoning behind it. What benefits will it bring?

It is true there would be fewer councillors, but none are paid so that doesn’t seem a major reason.

Aiskew would contribute more towards the services it benefits from - perhaps a stronger argument, except it does already give some money, and more will undoubtedly always be welcome.

Much building has been carried out at Aiskew in the past few years so the parish does have more money in its coffers which could possibly be spent on improved services for all -but that could also have happened anyway.

One of the other concerns is that Leeming Bar, currently cosied up with Aiskew as one parish, would be abandoned, although the consultation offers alternatives to include it.

Letters are being sent to all householders and the number of responses will be a true tester of the validity of the exercise.

But, as the past year has shown, asking the people what they want can sometimes deliver surprising results.