Thursday, August 29, 2013

A bad idea comes back yet again

I am astonished to learn that Copeland Borough Council is taking yet another look at the idea of setting up a Town Council for Whitehaven.


If there were a strong and dynamic group of local people who were pressing for the idea because they were really interested in using a Town council as a means of regenerating Whitehaven, I would reconsider my opposition to the idea in a trice.

But there was certainly no such group the last time we looked at the idea while I was a member of Copeland council.

The apathy in response to Copeland's admittedly lacklustre consultation about the possibility of a Town council - that's on top of the existing Borough Council and County Council - could best be described as a deafening silence.

The pressure for this to be considered last time did NOT come from Whitehaven. It came mostly from outside the town, and in particular from two councillors who live in and represented areas twenty miles to the south and who felt that the lack of a parish council gave Whitehaven an unfair financial advantage over the rest of Copeland.

They did actually have a point, though one of them greatly exaggerated it, and there was an alternative way to correct the problem - by declaring what are called "Special Expenses" when setting the budget and council tax - which would not have required creating a new layer of government to put right.

It is possible that a new group of people will come forward keen to use a town council to put right some of the things which Copeland is doing wrong in the town. If that happens I will be delighted to have been proved wrong. But it is far more likely that we will have the same people making the same mess and costing the taxpayers of Whitehaven an extra hundred thousand pounds a year or so.

I thought the idea of a Town Council for Whitehaven was dead and buried three or four years ago. It has risen from the grave but I predict that before very long it will expire again. Let's hope that this time we can drive a bigger stake through its' heart.

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