Probe into new style democracy for Torbay
TORBAY voters could see a shake-up in democracy and possibly higher bills if plans go ahead for new councils.
Torbay Council has started looking into how it could set up new parish or town councils which would have the power to raise taxes. The idea was put forward by mayor Gordon Oliver as a way for the council to mitigate its financial problems by shifting some services onto the new councils. They would then be able to take a share of council tax to carry out the work, which could include services such as public toilets, street-cleaning and grass-cutting. The council voted to move forward with the plan at a meeting in September, but the Conservative group raised concerns about the effect of adding an extra layer of local government. Members claimed it was a way of raising council taxes “by the back door”.
It has been suggested households could see an extra bill of up to £200, depending on which services were handed over. A Community Governance Review Working Party of councillors met for the first time last Wednesday to consider the idea.
The process could result in new town councils for Torquay and Paignton, similar to the town council set up in Brixham several years ago following a request from electors.
But smaller areas could ask for a parish council, councillors
One of The Trinity Sailing Foundation’s gaff-rigged Brixham trawlers were told. The new council would have to first be created, then members could choose what services they wanted to take on.
The meeting was given a draft timetable for the review, starting in November with a consultation on the terms of reference. That document could be published in January, officially starting the first phase of consultation. Draft recommendations could be published by the council in June, ahead of a second consultation stage.
Final recommendations could be published in September, with a decision taken by the council in October. Any new councils would start with elections in early May 2020.
But the working party decided put off starting the consultation on the terms of reference. Members want more information about how setting up new councils had worked in other parts of the country before going ahead.