The yellow Town Bus Service, also known as the Community bus, run by volunteers six days a week, can be used by everyone. It costs just £1 a trip or it’s free for the disabled or pensioners with a pass. It has several routes that cover the centre of town as well as some of the outlying areas of Bexhill. HOWEVER, sadly it does not serve the Sidley area. A town council could support the development of this much needed service – and make it more inclusive for all. It could even consider supporting public transport initiatives for areas that have no evening service, like the Conquest. Yes, a town council would work for you!
East Sussex and Rother councillors have plans to tackle parking in the town. The detailed draft plans and maps on parking can be tracked down on the RDC website (minutes and appendix 2 of Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting 19th March 2018). D4B has asked Rother that the plans be available in hard copy after they have been signed off, so that you can see them at the library. There will be a public consultation and we will keep you informed. Meanwhile, the police are actively booking cars for illegal parking in the town centre, so watch out!
If you have strong views about the plans, prepare to respond to the consultation. Rother has been known to ignore the results of official consultations (ahem) so you could also write to your two local councillors. On 19th July Bexhill Town Forum held a public meeting on this issue. You can watch the video recording on their Facebook page.
What matters to you ? Is it keeping Bexhill communities vibrant, lovely and peaceful? Is it sorting out the pavements, good afterschool care, the right environment for local businesses, encouraging new ideas for the town, or just getting value for money for good services that provide help where it is needed?
If you are reading this newsletter having your voice heard is probably important to you, and you may also support having a Town Council. In May 2019 there will be a chance to change things for the better when Rother District Council will be up for election, including the 18 councillors who represent Bexhill wards.
D4B agrees that this is a real opportunity for us all to elect new people who want to make a difference and listen to local residents. If we can get enough people who support a
Town Council elected, we can bring direct democracy back to Bexhill. Created in 1902, lost in 1974. Could it be you? Being a councillor can be very rewarding, and gives you a chance to make a huge difference to the quality of life for people in your local area. D4B has decided to organise training sessions for people who might consider standing as a councillor. Let us know if you are interested.
Democracy4Bexhill is not affiliated to any political party. We just want to support candidates who will serve the town, make a good job of it and vote for a Town Council, irrespective of which party they support. If you are interested in standing you could stand as an independent or with one of the major political parties. Here are local contact details:
Association of Bexhill Independents – Doug Oliver. firstname.lastname@example.org 07917 845737
Green Party – John and Polly. email@example.com 01424 732 645
Liberal Democrats – Diane Smith firstname.lastname@example.org 01424 220994
Labour Party – Conor Hill email@example.com 07787 157774
Conservative Party – Tom Liddiard firstname.lastname@example.org 01424 21911
Rother District Council (RDC)
Responsible for Housing, Environmental Health,
Tourism, Planning, Street Cleaning, Waste
Collection and more…
Councillors’ basic allowance: £4,517.64 (17/18)
East Sussex County Council (ESCC)
Responsible for Schools and Education,
Children’s Services, Social Services, Highways,
Library, Leisure, Planning and more…
Councillors’ basic allowance: £12,300 (17/19)
Bexhill Town Council
When created, it will be responsible for whatever
services are devolved to it from RDC and ESCC
plus the services the electorate vote for.
Councillors’ basic allowance: None.
Got any concerns or issues? Any questions for us?
Email us at: D4Bvoice@gmail.com
12-18? 19-25? You could become a Youth Councillor! Visit BexhillYouthCouncil.co.uk for more info.
In Rother’s community governance review last year, 93.5% of 9,227 Bexhill residents asked for a town council, and Rother famously said no. Word went round the country, and now the Government has just had a consultation about how to improve these reviews.
The National Association of Local Councils, representing 10,000 local councils, has responded saying that in future the public should have the right of appeal to the secretary of state, and if residents vote for a new council in a referendum, that should be binding. They also say that the process followed should be strictly monitored internally.
If the Government agrees with these proposals, Rother will not get away with it next time.
Town councils are small, and they have a lot of freedom to create services that local people want, so they can focus on what is needed and what locals really care about, plus “nice-to-haves” which will make a difference to the town.
There are town councils up and down the country serving their towns, giving them a facelift, providing a tourist office, giving jobs advice to young people, hiring out e-bikes, improving street lighting or bus shelters, providing information for tenants and leaseholders, setting up children’s playcentres, even creating a cinema or organising ballroom dancing,
Some invite residents to vote on where money should go. Many replace services that have been cut, such as public toilets or grants for local events or sports clubs.
Health and loneliness
One of the areas that interests us is tackling loneliness. Even in Bexhill – such a friendly place – there are many people who feel totally on their own. The UK has designated social isolation an official “health priority” and there is even a Minister for Loneliness! This is because loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking, drinking or obesity.
There is now proof that when you have friends and support, you are less likely to go to hospital. In Frome in Somerset, the number of emergency admissions to hospital has fallen by 17% since the Compassionate Frome project was set up. As a consultant there remarked, “No other interventions on record have reduced emergency admissions across a population.” So we save not just lives but also money. The scheme is backed by Frome town council.
There is a lot going on in Bexhill already to help with loneliness, but how do people find out where to go? That is still the challenge and a town council might decide to make loneliness their priority, supporting what is already happening and making it easier for the public to get involved. A town council would have local knowledge and should be flexible enough to respond to local needs. A town council would aim to make a difference to the daily lives of Bexhill residents.
It is really interesting to find out. Many of the council meetings at the Town Hall are open to the public. At some of them you can even ask a question if you give notice, under a system Rother call “Public question time”.
Rother is governed by a ‘Cabinet’ system, which means that many decisions are planned by the Council Leader and a small group of councillors, with those decisions often ‘nodded through’ at Full Council. The Cabinet, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Full Council meetings are all held on Mondays. Details and documents about all meetings can be found under the ABOUT THE COUNCIL tab at the top of the website (www.rother.gov.uk).
Remember you can always write to your Rother councillor if you have a concern.
Some of them do a great job, but let us know if they don’t reply.
What do you call a district council which has been in power for too long, and which denies the people of Bexhill a town council? Call time on it, perhaps….?
Here are the Bexhill councillors who voted AGAINST creating a Town Council for their town:
Central Ward – Joy Hughes and Abul Azad |
Kewhurst Ward – Brian Kentfield and Martin Kenward
Old Town Ward – Jacky Potts and Gillian Johnson |
Sidley Ward – Jimmy Carroll
St Stephens Ward – Richard Carroll |
Sackville Ward – Ian Hollidge
ABSTENTIONS – Maurice Watson, Sidley Ward | ABSENCES 3
No further consultation is planned on the East Parade in Bexhill. Rother’s plans to improve it, entitled The Coastal Environments Corporate Project – East Parade Bexhill, are on the RDC website (Cabinet meeting 12th March 2018). But are they exciting? We do get a new building for the Sea Angling Club and a paying car park at the base of Galley Hill but could we do more? One resident has pointed out that this is a beautiful area on a line between the Jerwood, the
Hastings net sheds and the De la Warr Pavilion, and could be a wonderful hub for creative, educational and healthy activities for the wider public, all based on the sea.
Some councillors are not bothered. One said:
“From experience if you consult 10 people you will have a range of views which if you ask the same questions to 100 people by and large those views would just be repeated 10x.”
Best not to mention the town council consultation when 8,361 all voted the SAME and were still ignored!
In the interests of openess and transparancy, this is the income and expenditure for D4B.
|DEMOCRACY 4 BEXHILL|
|SUMMARY INCOME & EXPENDITURE ACCOUNT – 24 Oct 16 to 31 Dec 17|
|Cash setup donations by committee members||310.00|
|Launch meeting donations||243.11|
|Donations – committee members – bills & cash||454.09|
|Donations –||Individual donations||2405.70|
|Donations –||at stalls & shop||63.61|
|Donations –||Christine’s box||10.72|
|Donations –||Cash – no names||110.00|
|Danations at party for insurance||240.60|
|Interest to 27 Jan||0.06|
|St John’s Hall||30.00|
|Launch meeting refreshments||15.70|
|Sweets for stall||20.00|
|Leaflets & labels||152.00|
|2000 Help make Bexhill Great||120.00|
|Bexhill Market stall||20.00|
|Shop use licence||100.00|
|SBS – envelopes&labels re petitioner’s letters||38.00|
|Fastprint – petitioner’s letters||300.00|
|APW – leaflet printing||30.00|
|Trevor Leggo meeting -room hire||36.00|
|Trevor Leggo meeting -refreshments||60.20|
|4 Domain names||39.59|
|Vodaphone sim card||15.00|
|Bexhill Town Council.com domain||14.39|
|Postage – letters to cllrs||24.70|
|Final Letters to cllrs – print & post||51.28|
|Vinyl posters for rally||84.00|
|Insurance for Town Hall Square rally||223.00|
|Surplus / (Deficit) –||for the period||£||2.69|
|Bills to be paid||-135.28|