No to a town council
At the full council meeting on 18th December to decide whether Bexhill could get more local governance, Rother District Council voted against a town council. The voting was 13 to 18, with four abstentions. They then voted for “no change” and this was carried by 18 to 11 with five abstentions. This was despite holding a consultation at which 8,642 people had voted for a town council compared to a mere 364 for no change.
“This was a farce” said Doug Oliver, chair of Democracy4Bexhill. “What is the point of having a consultation that attracts huge numbers in response, then ignoring such overwhelming results when 93% of the vote was for a town council? This shows contempt for Bexhill residents, who have engaged with this consultation with great spirit”
Democracy4Bexhill, which is a non-party organisation, led a rally outside the town hall with singing and speeches, and then people watched the long debate, either in the council chamber or in St John’s Centre where it was live-streamed by D4B. People all over Bexhill tuned in to watch the live stream on Facebook page, with over 4,000 people visiting it.
“This was a great way to help democracy become more transparent: thousands of Bexhill residents are committed to this now,” said Christine Bayliss, vice-chair of D4B.“ If Rother are determined to ignore the community, we just have to work through the ballot box as usual, and campaign to elect councillors who do have the interests of the town at heart and understand what a town council can offer. We are very grateful to those councillors who did support us. The work goes on”.
There was much concern over false allegations made by the Leader Carl Maynard in the chamber and on the media, that the campaign had provided misinformation and had been manipulated by political activists. All the detailed literature and the communication that was distributed to councillors was carefully researched and double-checked; all the costings had been cleared by the National Association of Local Councils, and the key figures had been discussed with Rother’s own auditor.
D4B includes people who have campaigned for many years for a greater say for the people of Bexhill. They are not going to give up now.