Probe into new style democ­racy for Tor­bay

Herald Express - - News -

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.

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