Community Voices Wanted

I spoke at Wellingborough Council’s Extraordinary meeting tonight about the present Local Government chaos in the County. I was very saddened to be the only public speaker on these most important matters. I was also ashamed to see only 3 of us in the public gallery. Clearly Council Members feel Citizens and local Business owners just aren’t interested in what happens to our public services and the way we make local decisions. I know this is not the case and that many people are confused and concerned about the state of our services and how local decisions will be made going forward. However, it’s hard to convince the politicians of that when I’m the only one there having my say and asking them to support residents to play more of a role in deciding the new options for Local Government in our area.

I was also saddened that there seems little fight left in Councillors to stand up and question the Governments unrealistic time table by demanding more time for Councils, residents and businesses to come up with proposals that will be truly sustainable, not just ones that put a temporary (but expensive) band aid over this appalling challenge.

And one which is co-created with communities and businesses. They seem to be capitulating to the Government’s plans and the 2 Unitary Model seems done and dusted in their minds despite it be far from that in reality.

As a local resident I want to see that comprehensive operational and financial assessments of any newly proposed models are fully undertaken long before any options are chosen. Indeed, I expect this to be done and presented to the public as part of the overall consultation All Council’s have committed too.

For the sake of residents, businesses and staff of the Council I would urge all Councillors to up their game and to remember they serve the people of this Borough not the Secretary of State or Whitehall Civil Servants – or even the New Commissioners at the County Council.

One thing they were Adamant about, however, is that if the 2 Unitary Councils do arrive, Wellingborough should have its own Town Council and continue to have a Mayor. I am not sure how the maths stack up re the Unitary model actually saving more money, but I know Councillors are very concerned not to see all Borough’s Assets frittered away into the debt black hole that the proposed 2 unitaries could well be saddled with.

In my speech I also asked that the Council…..

(1) Encourage all Partners Councils to demand more time for the process to come up with sustainable solutions

(2) that they open up the process to enable residents, communities and businesses to fully take part and contribute

(3) they set up an independent community forum and support us to create proposals alongside them – resulting in many more useful ways of helping our services to thrive

(4) that they decide to hold the planned elections next year, not only to show that we do have at least one way to hold them to account, but for me who is involved in creating any new models is as important as what they create, and

(5) that the Council fully backs any communities trying to save their local library and insists that no one is asked to pay for expensive community buildings that they effectively already own, in order to provide essential community services.

QUESTION : Is anyone else as enraged as I am about the County Council situation and that once again we are being excluded for shaping our own services despite having to pay increasing levels of Council Tax that we can not with hold. We may also have no opportunity to pass judgement on the whole situation until 2021 through the ballot box despite us constantly being told ‘if you don’t like what we do, vote us out’. That’s always assuming they let us vote. Personally I feel there should be new County Council Elections now and next year’s District and Boroughs Elections should also go ahead. With out such elections there can be no legitimacy.

Please get in touch if helping residents to understand and play a leading role in deciding how we make decisions is important to you.

Best wishes

Marion Turner-Hawes

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