While welcoming the start of Rother District Council’s community governance review at the start of this week it is regrettable that the council is not willing to be more clear about one of the specific options for improving governance in Bexhill.
The review website lists a town council for Bexhill as one option and an area committee of the existing Rother DC as another.
While the review website provides an excellent description about many aspects and advantages of adopting the town council option, and the specific powers and responsibilities of town councils are clearly defined by law in the Local Government Act 1972, there are no details about the specific powers and responsibilities published for the area committee option.
At the last Full Council meeting of the District Council (December 12), Cllr. Martin Kenward, the deputy leader of the council and portfolio member for Bexhill affairs, during the public questions session, was asked to provide specific examples of the delegated powers of the council that an area committee for Bexhill would be given if an area committee was agreed as the chosen option following the review.
Regrettably the answer given by Cllr. Kenward on behalf of the council was: “If an area committee structure is decided upon for Bexhill, Rother District Council will decide at that time what functions and responsibilities to devolve to it.”
This reply, without any details about the powers or role of an area committee, does not give me confidence that an area committee is an option that can be regarded as likely to result in more democracy for
Even more worrying is to read the first question in the governance review website consultation questionnaire, designed to seek the views of those wishing to give their views to the review.
The question is ‘would you or would you not like to see an area committee established in Bexhill-on-Sea, as called for in the petition that started this governance review?’.
I wonder how the council, in asking this question, expects anyone to be able to fully answer this question in the absence of detailed information about the responsibilities of an area committee for Bexhill.
This part of the governance review process, a statutory requirement for the council, seems flawed at the outset.
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