What happens now and how can I have a say?

During January-March 2017 people were invited to write in to their council with their ideas to help the Council create a shortlist of ideas for how our town should be run. You can see some of the responses at the bottom of the RDC Community Governance page.

The Bexhill Community Governance Review Steering Group met on 22nd May, considered all information, and decided to recommend three options for the second round of consultation:

  • no change
  • a town council for all 9 wards in Bexhill
  • an area committee for Bexhill

Council staff are working on costing the short listed options and that information was due to be available to the RDC Cabinet meeting on 3 July. The Cabinet was due to send a shortlist to the full Council on 10 July when all the councillors should have made a final decision on the options to shortlist.

In fact, the councillors returned the decision to the steering committee, so although a consultation was planned to start on 11 July and run for 8 weeks it is not now taking place on that date.

We will update this when we know more – the council page about the review has no further information at time of writing.

If you have any questions please email consultations@rother.gov.uk or write to Bexhill Community Governance Review, Rother District Council, Bexhill on Sea, TN39 3JX.

What is a Community Governance Review?

Bexhill Ward Map A Community Governance review is a process to allow everyone living in our area to have their say on how decisions are made in Bexhill. This community governance review applies to the 9 wards of Bexhill-on-Sea. The review has two consultation phases over 2017.

During January-March 2017 people were invited to write in to their council with their ideas to help the Council create a shortlist of ideas for how our town should be run. You can see some of the responses at the bottom of the RDC Community Governance page.

The Bexhill Community Governance Review Steering Group is a group of councillors who are organising the review process.  The Steering Group met on 22nd May, considered all information, and decided to recommend three options for the second round of consultation:

  • no change
  • a town council for all 9 wards in Bexhill
  • an area committee for Bexhill

The Council has no official preference at this stage.

If you have any questions please email consultations@rother.gov.uk or write to Bexhill Community Governance Review, Rother District Council, Bexhill on Sea, TN39 3JX.

How is Bexhill governed now?

At present all decisions about the services provided in Bexhill are made by the 38 councillors elected to RDC.
20 of these councillors are elected as representatives of other parts of the district so are always in the majority when decisions that affect Bexhill are made.
RDC argues that the decision they take are made in the best interests of the area as a whole and that any local issues are dealt with fairly and openly.
They also say that the present arrangements are is the most cost effective way of providing and managing services for the people of Bexhill.

What would it cost?

Costs are an important and potentially controversial concern.
No change means no additional council tax costs.
An Area Committee would require additional council tax costs as council officer time will be required to arrange and service their meetings.
A Town Council that limited the services it provides in Bexhill to those that RDC currently provides, paying for them by the transfer of money from RDC to the new Town Council would not lead to an increase in Council Tax. If it wished to increase the services it provides it would need to increase its income. This may be possible by applying for grants or using the money that developers would be pay to it as north east Bexhill is developed. If further money was needed it would increase Council Tax bills.

Residents need to decide on the value they place on having decisions on Bexhill being made by Bexhill elected councillors only, rather than by all those elected to RDC. Only YOU can decide—let them know!

What are the options: An Area Committee

Under this arrangement the 18 councillors elected for the Bexhill wards of RDC would meet separately as an Area Committee. No additional elections would be necessary. They would not be independent of RDC and the scope and extent of the services that they could make decisions on would be entirely at the discretion of RDC. Where district councils have set up Area Committees purposely to operate the services they provide they can work well. The success of an Area Committee for Bexhill would be completely dependent on RDC’s attitude to working in this way. An Area Committee would have no legal status nor ability to raise funds or benefit directly from grants or income from developers. Any funds it was able control or administer would have to be given it by RDC. An Area Committee system would need to operate across the whole of Rother district so an Area Committee for Bexhill would require Area Committees to be set up for the other areas of the district.

What are the options: A Town Council

A town council would be independent of Rother District Council (RDC) with it’s own legal status/ It would elect it’s own councillors. These could be members of political parties or independent candidates. It would have its own town centre office and its own Town Clerk and the freedom to decide what services it wishes to provide. Initially it would take over responsibility for the parks, gardens and open spaces such as Galley Hill and The Downs, allotments, the Museum and Christmas lights. The funds for these would transferred from RDC so no extra cost would be involved. A Town Council would have the ability to raise funds either by applying for grants or by a ‘precept’ – an additional charge on the Council Tax – to provide increased levels of service or new services. They would also receive by right payments that the developers of north east Bexhill have to legally pay and decide how to use this income for the benefit of the town, not Rother District as a whole.