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July 3rd 2019

D4B powers on –  would you like to be involved? 

Following the stunning result of our campaign for better councillors for Rother District Council, D4B is inviting Bexhill residents to apply to join its committee.

The election of a pro-town council governing alliance is wonderful. Thanks to public support, the May elections were a transformative result for the whole of Rother but particularly for Bexhill. Doug Oliver the former chair of D4B is now Leader of the District Council, and five other members of the D4B committee have become councillors! This has left some vacancies as we are only a small group. D4B itself is still needed and we are entering a new phase.

We will work in harmony with Rother, but we need to maintain our independence as a “critical friend”.

So we invite interested people to apply to join us to help ensure that we all get the best town council possible.  Write to secretary@democracy4bexhill.com if you would like to know more, or ring Viv Taylor Gee on 07709 116 163.  The committee places are numbered but there are many other ways in which you can be involved.

Are we getting a town council too?

Council officers have now been instructed to start the process of creating a Town Council and Rother District Council Cabinet is meeting on 29th July to consider a report on the legal process involved.  So the wheels are moving…

What is D4B’s role now?

The purpose of Democracy4Bexhill continues to be to create better local governance for the people of Bexhill. This new phase will involve looking at the options that will be open to Bexhill town council, making sure the town’s views are reflected, hearing from other town councils in the country, exploring how the taxpayers can save money in the way the town’s services are organised, and training up possible candidates who would like to stand as town councillors in 2020. It will also be taking up issues in the town in which citizens can make a difference.  Now we can work with Rother District Council in a cooperative way!

D4B will be holding a public meeting in the autumn and will be backing a national conference on local community empowerment to be held in Bexhill in January 2020.

May 2nd 2019 – Sweet success!

In the election of May 2nd 2019, our campaign for better councillors on Rother District Council swept the board with enormous and astonishing success.

The new candidates, pledging change, community involvement and a town council for Bexhill, were elected with thumping majorities.  Of the total of 38 seats,  24 were won by the Independents, Liberal Democrats, Labour and one Green. The Tories now have just 14 councillors and have lost control.

In Bexhill, the Tories lost 12 of the 13 wards they held, out of the total of 18.  Bexhill is where D4B’s campaign for the town council and the many Bexhill bungles which we highlighted really made the difference.  We now have one Tory and 17 pro-town council councillors in Bexhill.  Wipe out!

Congratulations of course to the new councillors.

But most of all, we would like to thank the thousands of people in Rother who have supported them and us.

The new councillors are of all ages, experience and backgrounds. They are fresh, keen and determined to work hard to fulfil their promises and your expectations. They aim to produce a balanced, collaborative Rother District Council that will make decisions that are fair and open.  Despite the challenging economic and political situation,  they will bring Bexhill into a new and exciting era of possibilities.

We know from the days and weeks on doorsteps and in discussions, that the people of Bexhill want a new start for their town. With your help, this is what we will get.

Democracy4Bexhill itself will forge a new role within the community, so watch this space!

Details of the election results can be found here.

Election newsletter, Feb 2019.

D4B Read our special election newsletter!  (PDF format)

During February 2019, our newsletter was delivered to (almost) every Bexhill household , with details of our campaign for better councillors for Rother District Council. Read all about it by clicking above.

9th March 2019: for the duration of the Rother District election campaign, D4B suspended its activity.  The public was asked to contact the groups who formed D4B, if they needed information about the campaign to secure a town council for Bexhill. These are:

Association of Independent Councillors – Doug Oliver –dougoliver1@hotmail.co.uk 07917 845737
Bexhill Labour Party – Christine Bayliss –bayliss4bexhillandbattle@gmail.com 07904953255
Bexhill Liberal Democrats – Diane Smith – 01424 220994 diane_m_smith@outlook.com
Green Party – Polly Gray – mrspollygray@gmail.com

The back story

Democracy4Bexhill has been campaigning for years for better governance for the town. D4B is not affiliated to any one party. It is a community group whose members support a variety of parties, or none, or are independent.

From 1902 to 1974, Bexhill had its own borough council giving pride and status to the town, but it was abolished in 1974, and replaced by Rother District Council covering a wide rural area. The councillors who represented Bexhill did not have a majority on the Council, even over matters closely related to the town.  We had no town council, unlike most other towns of our size in the country. Every other town and parish in Rother has its own council, but the 43,000 residents of Bexhill don’t.

We launched a huge campaign for more governance, and won wide popular support. A town council could do SO MUCH for the town! Rother was obliged by law to hold a consultation, called a Community Governance Review. Thousands took part. Most consultations get a few hundred responses: this one was massive.

9,227 people participated in the consultation.  93.5% of them,(8, 631 people), wanted a town council!

Then came Rother’s decision. On December 18th, 2017, by 18 to 13 votes,  at a full council meeting, Rother said er…….no.  No town council.

They voted in favour of no change. An option that had been supported by only 364 people. Compared to over 8,600.

Only one of the Rother councillors from the ruling party representing Bexhill voted for a town council: the others, including the mayor, opposed it or were not there.

This extraordinary decision stunned the residents of Bexhill, but the campaign for a town council did not stop. Democracy4Bexhill continued the fight: we launched a campaign for better councillors on Rother itself, people who were keen and committed and wanted to give the people of Bexhill more of a say. They stepped forward. This was our chance to support them and speak up.

Our decision to encourage new people to stand as councillors in the May 2nd election (an election that happens only every four years) , was backed up by a public meeting.

Most of the people standing as new candidates from the Bexhill wards carried a promise on their leaflets, the D4B promise. “I promise that if elected, I will support the creation of a town council.

We were keen to see what Bexhill residents would vote on May 2nd. Were they impressed with Rother and the way they run the town? Or were they ready for change? In these difficult times we need representatives we can trust.

If we got better councillors then we stood a better chance of getting a town council eventually too. Whatever happened, we would have told Rother that Bexhill residents have a voice and should not be taken for granted.

The result has taken our breath away. The new Rother District Council will take its responsibilities seriously, and we will support them in their task, in the new Bexhill !