“Overwhelming response needed”

From: Paul Courtel, Amherst Road, Bexhill

24 August, 2017

Rother’s Community Governance Review Steering Group met on August 10 to finalise arrangements for stage 2 of the Community Governance Review. Councillors seem to have decided to make it as difficult as possible for Bexhill residents to respond. Yet the deputy leader, Councillor Martin Kenward (Conservative, Kewhurst) has made it clear that an “overwhelming response” would be needed to persuade councillors to consider backing any change.

There will be a six-week consultation period from Friday, September 1, 2017 to Friday, October 13, 2017 at 4:30pm. People who live or work in Bexhill are being asked to tick a box, as well as providing their names and addresses to deter duplicate responses. They will be provided with four choices: no change, a town council for Bexhill, a Rother Area Committee of Bexhill Councillors or four Parish Councils splitting Bexhill into North, South, East and West.

The main problem is how to express a preference. It can either be done online on the Rother website, or on a Rother issued postcard. Postcards will only be available from Rother Council reception or from an elected Rother Councillor representing a Bexhill ward. A motion at Full Council, supported by every conservative councillor, had decided that the stage 2 consultation should be conducted “at no additional cost” to the council. This meant that the proposal to send explanatory literature to every household in Bexhill could not proceed. D4B (Democracy for Bexhill) is valiantly filling the breach by producing, printing and delivering explanatory literature to every household in Bexhill at no cost to Rother.

The project is being entirely funded by donations from Bexhill residents. The chairman of D4B, Councillor Doug Oliver (Independent, Collington), offered to print postcards, designed by Rother Council and returnable to Rother Council, at D4B’s expense and to deliver them to every household at no cost to Rother. But Councillor Gill Johnson (Conservative, Bexhill Old Town) argued that this offer would be open to fraud. Consequently, none of the Conservative councillors, nor Councillor Charles Clark (Independent, St Michael’s) were willing to back this proposal. Yet Councillor Johnson and her Conservative colleagues were entirely relaxed about postcards being given to Rother councillors representing Bexhill wards.

The inference must be that Rother Conservative councillors consider themselves a more ethical breed than the leadership of D4B who would not be liable to committing fraud.

Reproduced from the Bexhill Observer 

“Democracy4Bexhill urges town to support consultation”

18th August 2017

The second phase of a consultation into the future on how Bexhill is governed starts next month. Rother District Council’s Community Governance Review steering group met last Thursday (August 10) to decide on the next move. But campaign group, Democracy4Bexhill (D4B) is annoyed after it said the authority refused an offer from the group to print and distribute the council’s own information on the consultation and returnable postcards for free. Doug Oliver, chairman of D4B, said: “We just want to reach every resident of Bexhill, to make sure that everyone has a say on this important issue.

“Many people want to see a town council or other form of local democracy but Rother is clearly not keen on hearing their voices. We will now distribute information ourselves.” D4B said Rother’s deputy leader Martin Kenward has made it clear an ‘overwhelming response’ is needed to persuade the authority to consider backing any change. The campaign group said it is producing, printing and delivering explanatory literature to every household in Bexhill, a project entirely funded by donations from residents. Rother’s six-week consultation starts on Friday, September 1 and ends on Friday, October 13.

Reproduced from the Bexhill Observer

“The Council never ceases to amaze”

From: Michael Crotty, Shepherds Close, Bexhill

August 24th 2017

The audacity of our council never fails to amaze me, and the gall of its illustrious leader to blatantly insult the residents of Bexhill shows a total lack of courtesy, decency and moral judgement. He didn’t consider enough of us were interested to merit sending out a leaflet to fully explain the ins and outs of Governance so that in a future referendum many more would understand and request freedom from his stranglehold on our town. It was carefully voted out avoiding any mention that the reason was anything to do with cost, although the expense involved was quite specifically mentioned as unjustified.

Saturday, the reason for this hush hush approach became obvious… I, along with the rest of Bexhill/Rother, received a notice “commanding” me to confirm the current record held of my household in preparation for the electoral registration form, which I would receive separately. It carried a specific threat of a £1,000 fine for failure to comply! This cost RDC to send out even if it was via HEF. Then there was the stamped addressed envelope for a postal reply… Costs money! But this is only a prelude to another communication with the real electoral registration form inside… More money! Plus of course, the mandatory return envelope… Again more money!

Yes Bexhill, you’re paying for this. It might be said to come from some obscure council fund but it still originates from your council tax. This is nothing short of childish behaviour. “We won’t go to the expense of sending out information that could affect the lives of every resident of Bexhill, but we will to send out an electoral form ‘twice’ that asks the same questions?” I have no doubt that the blame for this will be laid at someone else’s door. Bexhill doesn’t need your unacceptable unilateral decisions which are ratified by the herd of sheep who obey your whistle.

Although I detected murmurs of dissent that too much of some government cash was going to Bexhill. Good luck to D4B, Lets hope that your efforts will show that the people of Bexhill do want to run their town and for their benefit.

Reproduced from the Bexhill Observer

 

“A council could make savings”

From: Carole Woodland, Cooden Drive, Bexhill

24 August 2017

Speaking at the town council meeting, Trevor Leggo, chief executive of Sussex & Surrey Associations of Local Councils, made it clear that although Bexhill might have to accept a slight rise in council tax to have a town council, such a council could also make savings. Richard Farhall, town clerk of Rye Town Council, showed why Rye was pleased to have the services of a town council. Without a town council, Bexhill might find itself at Rother’s mercy when cuts from national government come into force.

Other areas of Rother with their own town/parish councils should have their local services protected. Will Rother target our toilets, vital to both young and old? Do you trust the Rother Cabinet, dominated by Maynard and his rural cronies, to make choices which are in Bexhill’s best interests? New town councils have been very successful elsewhere, when the county and district council are committed to devolving not only services, but also assets to the town council. If Maynard, Kenward et al continue to cling like barnacles to the no change ship, has the time come to chip some of them off in the Rother elections?

Reproduced from http://www.bexhillobserver.net/news/your-say/a-council-could-make-savings-1-8119138

“Residents voice calls for Bexhill to have its own council”

August 24th, 2017

Scores of residents voiced their wish to see a town council established in Bexhill at a meeting last Thursday (August 17). More than 150 people packed into St Barnabas Church to air their views. The second phase of a consultation into the future on how Bexhill is governed is due to start next week. Rother District Council’s six-week consultation runs from next Friday (September 1) until Friday, October 13.

People will be provided with four choices: no change, a Bexhill Town Council, an area committee made up of Bexhill councillors with no executive decision-making ability, or four parish councils splitting Bexhill into North, South, East and West.

Last Thursday’s meeting heard from Trevor Leggo, chief executive of Sussex & Surrey Associations of Local Councils; Richard Farhall, town clerk for Rye Town Council; East Sussex county councillor Stuart Earl; Independent Rother councillor Doug Oliver; Bexhill resident Julia Penfold and other residents asking questions from the floor.

Bexhill is the only part of the Rother district not to have either a parish nor town council. A 4,000-strong petition from residents triggered the Community Governance Review. Robin Patten, independent chairman of the review’s steering group, said: “We want to hear from as many people as possible, including those who haven’t taken part in the first phase of the consultation.

“Residents will play a vital role in the second phase by giving their views on the options. “In order to keep costs to a minimum, we are encouraging those that can respond online to do so. “For those who can’t, information and response postcards are available from the council’s Community Help Point in Bexhill or by contacting their local councillor.” He added: “As well as being effective and providing value for money, any arrangements which are introduced must represent the identity and the interests of people in Bexhill.”

Campaign group, Democracy4Bexhill (D4B) was left annoyed after it said Rother refused an offer from the group to print and distribute the council’s own information on the consultation and returnable postcards for free. Residents can find out more information about the review by visiting the council’s website at www.rother.gov.uk/CommunityGovernanceReview.

Reproduced from the Bexhill Observer