D4B newsletter – July 2017
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Thanks for your support.
Thank you to all those who responded to our appeal for funds to produce a leaflet setting out the governance options for the town. The appeal raised over £1400! This is a great start towards the £2,500 we estimate we need to mount an effective campaign.
Council in a shambles over review.
The steering group’s eminently sensible recommendation to send details of the various governance options to all households in Bexhill was rejected by the full council. The council are using what they regard as a low level of response to the stage 1 consultation as the justification for this decision – despite the fact that officers told them that compared to other consultations the council conducts there had been an exceptionally high response. An account of the meeting is given later in this newsletter.
The council’s decision to refer the whole stage 2 issue back to the steering group will delay the whole process and we won’t know if the steering group’s options (town council, area committee or no change) will be the ones that return to council for their approval nor what the consultation process will be. Once we do we will be finalising our own leaflet for printing and distribution.
Stand and Deliver!
We already have a good number of D4B supporters who do doorstep deliveries of leaflets and newsletters to those without email but many hands make light work – and we will certainly need as many hands as possible if we need to hand deliver our leaflet to every household in the town. If you can help with this task, even if only for your street, please let us know. Contact details at the end of this newsletter.
Raise a cup for D4B.
You could help spread the message about the Community Governance Review (CGR) by organising a coffee morning or afternoon tea for neighbours and friends. We find that the opportunity to chat informally to people about the process, the various options and what could be achieved is the best way to get people interested and involved. If you would like to help in this way set your date, send out your invites and let us know if you would like one of the D4B team to attend. Contact details at the end of this newsletter.
Next CGR Steering Group meeting.
Following the debacle that characterised the meeting of the full council on Monday 10th July (a full account follows) the next meeting of the steering group will be on Thursday 10th August at 9.30am. The council have clearly been taken by surprise at the level of interest and support for some form of local governance and it is important that we keep up the pressure. Do please come along to the town hall public gallery so that we can show them this issue won’t go away and that we are watching their every move.
Chaos and confusion at full council, 10th July 2017.
There was a packed public gallery for this meeting. Thank you for your support.
The Community Governance Review steering group had recommended three options: a town council for Bexhill, a Bexhill area committee of Rother and a ‘no change’ option. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee had added a fourth by a majority of one vote: to split Bexhill into three parishes. This was altered unanimously by the Cabinet to four parishes based on the County Council divisions. Yet the idea of splitting up Bexhill only received 0.1% support amongst almost 1,000 respondents to the stage 1 consultation last winter. Councillor Sue Prochak (Lib Dem, Salehurst) moved that the four parish option be removed from the stage 2 Consultation as the proposed parish boundaries did not reflect natural communities. Her amendment was overwhelmingly defeated with every Conservative present voting against.
However, Councillor Martin Kenward (Con, Bexhill Kewhurst) took everyone by surprise when he proposed an amendment to send the whole issue back to the steering group for them to agree the communication and consultation plan for the second stage consultation and that the consultation be carried out “at no additional cost to the council”. Councillor Prochak (Liberal Democrat – Salehurst) asked for clarification on the question of cost and Councillor Kenward confirmed that “the consultation should be at no additional cost to this council”.
Councillor Doug Oliver (Independent, Bexhill Collington) moved a further amendment that a communication be sent to every household in Bexhill, charged to Bexhill Special Expenses. In support, Councillor Kathryn Field (Lib Dem, Battle) argued that Rother needed to “make sure it is easy to respond.” The amendment was aimed at placating Councillor Paul Osborne (Con, Eastern Rother) and other Conservative Councillors who did not want the countryside to pay for a leaflet drop in Bexhill. However, every Conservative Councillor present voted against Councillor Oliver’s amendment and it was defeated.
Cllr Carl Maynard (Con, Brede Valley), the Leader of the Council summed up the debate by saying that: “Now is not the right time for change” He went on to say the money spent on the review could be spent on council services for the whole of Rother.
To add further confusion, the final motion read out by the Chairman of Rother District Council and voted on by the Full Council included the four options and a reference back to the Steering Group to address communication plan, but did not include the words “at no additional cost to the Council.”
As mentioned earlier the the steering group will meet on Thursday 10th August to try and make sense of this self-inflicted confusion.
Thank you for reading this newsletter. Please feel free to circulate it to anyone you know who you think may be interested in its contents and encourage them to register with D4B to receive a copy of our next newsletter direct to their mailbox.
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by cheque (payable to Democracy4Bexhill) sent to D4B 11 Brockley Road, Bexhill-on-Sea TN39 3HA
Phone: 07917 845737
Democracy4Bexhill (D4B) is a rainbow alliance of Bexhill residents of all political persuasions to encouraging participation in the public consultation on how Bexhill should be governed. It is entirely self-funded from donations by D4B supporters.
Although individual members of D4B may hold strongly held views as to the form of governance the town should have they are united in the belief that the decision must be based on the views of the community gathered by a involving all residents in the consultation process.