As your Ramsbottom Councillors, Rob Hodkinson and I have welcomed the announcement from Communities Minister Stephen Williams that the bureaucratic burdens faced by community groups wanting to set up a town or parish council are being relaxed.
There has long been a demand in Ramsbottom for some autonomy from Bury Council. For a long time, we have been seen, rightly or wrongly, as a “cash cow” with taxpayers’ money flowing into the town hall coffers, but little seen in return.
One thing is clear – under this Labour Council we have crumbling roads, the loss of our children’s centre, our bin collections cut. T
That is why we are today calling for a Ramsbottom Town Council to be established.
We all know that Ramsbottom is a town of its own, separate to Bury and there is currently an overwhelming demand for “devolution” and localities having their own say.
Under our proposals, residents would elect a Ramsbottom Town Council – probably similar in size to the old Ramsbottom Urban District Council.
Town councils allow communities to take control of local assets, deliver local services and influence decision-making and priorities. In these days of the voluntary sector getting more involved, as the Council pulls away from providing services, a Town Council could help “manage” local services being provided by the voluntary sector, such as the civic hall, cemetery, parks, etc.
Town Councils also have a statutory right to be consulted and comment on all planning applications.
I am pleased that the Conservative-led Government wants the experience of creating a town council to become easier and I welcome the measures being introduced.
The measures are:
- lowering the threshold of signatures required to trigger a review of governance from 10% to 7.5 % of residents (675 in Ramsbottom)
- speeding up the process and creating greater certainty for local campaigners by shortening the amount of time the local authority can take to complete a governance review to 12 months from receipt of a valid petition
- allowing neighbourhood forums to trigger a community governance review for a new town council without requiring them to submit a petition
The possible creation of a Town Council, could cover those areas in Ramsbottom Ward – Ramsbottom, Shuttleworth and Holcombe. It will really give people a voice. There is huge potential for neighbourhood planning and taking control of many of our much-loved local assets from Bury Council that could be under threat.
We accept that there is a cost – perhaps £15 per household per annum for a Band C property. The cost of running a Town Council would appear on the council tax bill alongside the costs of the other councils’ services to make it transparent. I am sure that there are savings to be made and that it would be cost neutral to establish and run a Town Council. Town Councillors would not receive any remuneration and in the first instance we suggest that the number of Ramsbottom Councillors on Bury Council is reduced from 3 to 2 to ensure those savings are passed on to the Town Council.
We will be undertaking a survey of local residents and if there is a desire to go down that route, then we I will ensure that this is pursued further.
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