New bid to save town council
THE future of a town council seemingly on the brink of self-destruction took a new twist last night when the Government was brought into the row.Bury St Edmunds Town Council was only set up in 2003 but has come under fire amid claims it is a waste of taxpayers' money.
THE future of a town council seemingly on the brink of self-destruction took a new twist last night when the Government was brought into the row.
Bury St Edmunds Town Council was only set up in 2003 but has come under fire amid claims it is a waste of taxpayers' money.
Despite the authority insisting it carries out good work in the town, 10 members of the newly-formed Abolish Bury Town Council (ABC) party were voted onto the authority last week - taking overall control and immediately vowing to wind it up.
But in an unusual political twist, the remaining seven Conservative and Labour councillors have written a joint letter to local government secretary Ruth Kelly calling for an investigation into its viability - in the hope they will get a vote of confidence.
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In a joint statement Patrick Chung, Bob Cockle, Richard Rout, Paul Simner, Clive Springett, Alan Turner and Kevin Waterson said: “Each of us was elected out of a desire to make Bury St Edmunds a better place for its residents - there is no other motivation.
“However, following the election of 10 members of a party aiming to abolish Bury St Edmunds Town Council we have felt it necessary to call on the Secretary of State to investigate the council and determine its viability.”
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They added: “It is our belief that the 30p a week paid to the town council by an average Band D resident provides a good return.
“We have continually kept council tax down, in the last year there was no increase at all, and invested in allotments, Christmas lights, litter bins and community grants while avoiding the unnecessary duplication of borough council services.
“It is our hope that the Secretary of State will confirm our faith in the viability of Bury St Edmunds Town Council and recommend that the authority continues its good work on behalf of all the people in the town regardless of their political beliefs.”
Roy Bebbington, leader of the ABC group, has pledged to make the council dormant and will be looking to reduce the number of council meetings to the legal minimum of just four a year.
The ABC group is also planning to make an approach to Ms Kelly with a view to winding down the council.
What the Conservative/Labour letter says:
“We the undersigned duly elected members of Bury St Edmunds Town Council are writing to you following the election of 10 members of 'ABC', a party aiming to abolish Bury St Edmunds Town Council, to the authority on which we serve.
“While five of these members were elected due to the inability of the main political parties to field sufficient candidates, the remaining five needed to win in their respective wards to be elected.
“Following the electoral success of the 'ABC' party we would like to ask you to investigate the conduct and viability of Bury St Edmunds Town Council and assess whether the authority should be wound up.
“It is our belief that the Town Council provides a good return for the council tax paid by the residents of Bury St Edmunds and conducts its affairs both properly and efficiently, however, we would be grateful if a judgement on this matter could be made by your Department.
“We look forward to your prompt reply so that we can reassure the residents of Bury St Edmunds that this important matter is receiving the attention it deserves.”