From: C. Byrne, Marina, Bexhill
What a joy to see 150 people passionate about Bexhill’s future crowding into St Barnabas last Thursday to campaign for a town council for Bexhill.
What a contrast with the grim, mean-spirited last session of the Community Governance Review Steering Committee, where Rother’s ruling councillors tied themselves in knots trying to ensure as few people as possible would even receive information and a postcard so they could take part in stage two consultation.
One councillor, having insisted not a penny more should be spent on the consultation by Rother, then insisted that the costs of printing actually be increased by reducing the recommended two people per postcard at the same address to only one. Although the public gallery roared with laughter at this desperate attempt to limit participation, it was a sad day for local democracy.
Most shocking is the ruling councillors’ attempt to split Bexhill into four separate parishes instead of a single parish/town council. This would mean paying for four town clerks with premises and attendant costs, four sets of election expenses, and could involved 68 extra councillors in Bexhill alone.
So Rother council is not trying to save money, it is trying to stop Bexhill having a strong, unified voice – and councillors are prepared to waste tens of thousands of pounds to achieve this.
But Bexhill people are not stupid, so this divide-and-rule attempt will not succeed.
The groundswell of anger about the way councillors of the ruling party are behaving is growing. People are starting to look at how much money Rother councillors claim in ‘expenses’ and to ask – particularly in Bexhill – what those councillors are actually doing to earn that money by serving the interest of their constituents. Twice in the last two years I have written to one of my councillors. Neither time did I receive a reply, or even an acknowledgement.
This councillor sits on several committees but when I have attended public sessions, this councillor has never spoken. What is the point of being represented by someone like that?
On Thursday night at St Barnabas, there was a very different atmosphere. Thanks to all the speakers, in particular independent councillors Stuart Earl and Doug Oliver, whose care and concern for our lovely town shone brightly, and to Richard Farhall, clerk of Rye Town Council, who share with us some of the many advantages Rye people enjoy as a result of having their own town council. Thanks also to Rye Town Council for sending support to people in Bexhill as we struggle for justice and the same local representation as all the other towns and villages in Rother.
The next stage consultation begins on September 1 and ends on October 13. Please make sure you take part, as nothing you may have written in the first stage of the consultation will count.