Labour backing town council for Bexhill

Bexhill and Battle labour - cllr maurice watson, ruairi mccourt, paul courtel
Bexhill and Battle labour - cllr maurice watson, ruairi mccourt, paul courtel

MEMBERS OF Bexhill and Battle Labour Party have voted decisively in favour of a town council for Bexhill.

During their meeting at All Saints Church Hall in Sidley almost 78% of members present voted in favour of backing the creation of a town council for Bexhill where issues of local significance could be decided.

Councillor Maurice Watson (Labour, Sidley) explained that with on-going reductions in the grant to Rother District Council from central government, non-statutory services were likely to face further drastic cuts.

Cllr Watson said: “Post 2015 the town could lose important services which we all rely on. I believe that the way forward for Bexhill is to have is own town council; Local governance would be best for the town. At present this town does not have any structure in place for cuts that the council faces. A Bexhill town council, which would not be rate-capped by Government, might be our only option for saving such essential services.”

With the cuts, Bexhill would lose services such as public toilets, having already lost tourist information, which would be “a great blow.”

It was also thought the option of turning wards into parishes would be divisive, stopping Bexhill acting as a integrated community, and in the long term destructive.

Paul Courtel, a Labour Candidate for Bexhill Central and former Acting Chair of Bexhill Town Forum, said that Bexhill residents were already paying £663,000 in the current financial year in ‘Bexhill Special Expenses’ and this budget could be transferred to a Bexhill Town Council where decisions would be taken by elected Bexhill councillors who would understand the needs of Bexhillians better than councillors from the Rother countryside.

He added: “Council taxpayers in Battle are paying just £3.59 per month more than Council taxpayers in Bexhill for a band “D” property but that enables their street lighting to remain switched on at night. Council taxpayers in Rye were paying just £3.87 per month more than Council taxpayers in Bexhill but have retained their Tourist Information office. Because Bexhill has about nine times as many Council taxpayers as Battle or Rye, economies of scale would enable us to provide vital services for far less than that’

Ruairi McCourt, a Labour Candidate for Bexhill Central and a former Executive Director of a Housing Trust, explained that the Labour Party nationally was in favour of giving local communities “a real say” in decisions that affect the lives of the people who live in them. Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate Michelle Thew commented: “Labour recognize that we will not tackle the crisis of confidence in politics until power is shared. Giving power back to residents in Bexhill with the establishment of a town council will ensure that local needs and services are finally put first. Bexhill deserves better and using the talent we have in the community will enable us to deliver some of the vital services the town needs.”