Last week for Whitehaven Town Council consultation
The consultation on whether Whitehaven should have a Town council finishes on Friday.
Copies of the voting form are available from the foyer at the Copeland council offices at the Copeland Centre in Catherine Street. You can respond by handing in the form or a letter with your views to the elections office at the Copeland Centre or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday.
There is no formal Conservative line on this, and if the consultation shows a strong public view in either direction I am sure we will respect the public wishes. However, I am returning my form to vote against the creation of a Town Council.
There are two legitimate arguments which have been raised by supporters of parishing, both of which should in my opinion be addressed but it can be done as effectively and more cheaply without the costs of another tier of government.
In my opinion the democratic benefits of giving Whitehaven a voice can be met just as effectively by having the councillors who are already elected to represent the town meet as an area committee. Basically the Whitehaven representatives on Copeland would meet as a committee a number of times a year, inviting the country councillors for the area to join us.
The issues of fair payment for the costs of council services between the unparished area and the rest of the Borough can and should be addressed in a transparent way, but again this can be done a lot more cheaply than by electing a whole new set of councillors on top of the existing ones. Copeland BC should hold an independent external review of the cost of those services which in Whitehaven are provided by the Borough council and in the rest of the district are provided by the parish or town councils and funded by local town or parish precepts.
Those services should be funded in future by declaring "special expenses" so that the area which uses the service pays for them to the same degree as the rest of the district. This would correct the current imbalance at a fraction of the potential cost of adding an extra tier of government.
If we eliminate the current problem by declaring special expenses, Whitehaven might still have the lowest council tax in Copeland, but it would now be because we have spared ourselves the cost of electing another 25 councillors on top of the twenty or so borough and county councillors we already have, rather than because of different and arguably unfair treatment compared with the rest of the borough.