Bid to boost democracy in Suffolk’s second biggest town
- Credit: Archant
Community leaders are being advised to set up a task group to look at the possibility of creating a new town council for Suffolk’s second biggest town.
Large areas of Lowestoft are said to be inadequately represented – with no strong democratically elected body able to advocate solely on behalf of the people of the town.
The aim of the review is to consider whether a third tier of local government should be created in “un-parished” areas of Lowestoft and the outcome could be one or even two town councils, or a series of parish councils for different geographical areas.
At this stage, there is no favoured solution but one council would probably be the preferred option.
In a report to the overview and scrutiny committee, Waveney District Council leader Colin Law said the issue of a complete democratic review of Lowestoft dated back to 2008 when the matter was first considered but never completed.
He said: “A large part of Lowestoft is un-parished – seven full wards and parts of three further wards. This means that in this area there is no third tier of local government – town council, parish council, parish meeting – to democratically represent the electorate in Lowestoft.”
In 1974, with the creation of Waveney District Council, the Lowestoft Charter Trustees was formed, comprising the 26 district councillors in the un-parished areas.
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The trustees though have an extremely narrow role, only performing a civic and ceremonial function, and electing the mayor to represent the town at civic events.
Interest in change has recently been reignited by issues such as the Southwold Harbour report and the State of Waveney Debate.
If the committee agrees on Thursday to set up a politically-balanced seven-member Task and Finish Group (TFG), work will begin almost immediately on gathering information on the situation and possible options for the future, setting timescales and a timetable of key activities, pulling together facts and figures to be taken into account, and assessing a suggested programme of consultation.
The work of the TFG is expected to take about six months, with a recommendation to full council by the end of the year or early 2016.
Should the recommendation lead to the triggering of a Community Governance Review, the formal review process would then be expected to begin during 2016 when the fine details would be considered, including the viability of a new council and the council tax it would need to levy.
The earliest possible date for any new parish or town council to be formed, with its first elections, would be May 2017.