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Friday, 19 December 2014

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Town council on the way – or maybe two

WHITEHAVEN will have a new town council next year, it has been confirmed.

By Andrew Clarke

Residents will now be asked whether they prefer one council covering the whole unparished area, or two parish councils, provisionally split into east and west Whitehaven with the Loop Road dividing the two.

Costings of each are still being drawn up, but it is estimated that the additional precept to the taxpayer will be around £30 per year for Band A properties, £50 for Band D and £70 for Band F.

Election of councillors will take place next May and, based on an electorate to councillor ratio, one Whitehaven Town Council would have between 18 and 25 councillors.

If a two parish council option is chosen, West Whitehaven would have between 11 and 16 councillors, and East Whitehaven between seven and 10.

The new councillors will not receive an allowance, and the existing 51-member setup of Copeland Council is not affected by the change.

East Whitehaven would include the Hensingham and Hillcrest wards, and part of Bransty (above the Loop Road including the Sunny Hill, Highlands and Rannerdale areas).

West Whitehaven would incorporate the wards of Harbour, Kells, Mirehouse, Sandwith and part of Bransty (the estate itself).

Whitehaven and Sandwith are the only unparished areas in Copeland, and the new setup will be funded by the extra precept, raising money to pay for public services specifically for each area that could include toilets, play areas, grass-cutting or Christmas lights.

A Copeland Council review panel formally decided to move towards the new town council setup, and the final model has to be agreed upon by December.

Councillor David Moore said: “Parish councils are a real success; they can deliver services for the community that the borough council can no longer provide.”

Councillor George Clements spoke in favour of having one town council, adding that dividing the town “is unfair” as the town centre, while used by everyone, would fall entirely on the West Whitehaven Parish Council to pay for.

The panel confirmed receipt of a 2,614-signature petition, organised by the Time For Change campaign group calling for the creation of a town council. The panel heard that the petition has no legal bearing as it is calling for a process that the council has already begun itself.

Committee chair Peter Kane said: “We welcome the petition as a sign of the public’s support for a town council.”

Copeland Council is hosting a stall at Whitehaven Carnival on Saturday, July 5 to provide information on the two options.

Have your say

I am amazed at the enthusiasm shown for yet another layer of government? It seems that over 2000 people have signed up for this to take place. Are these the people who expect to pay between £30-£50 pounds extra on top of the current community charge. I strongly disagree with the way government has treated the Borough financially since the coalition came into being and some of the decisions made by our elected representatives (e.g.closure of toilets in the town) could have been better. However a referendum on whether an increase on our community charge above the 2% limit across the borough as a whole would seem a more honest way of finding out peoples support for raising money.

Posted by Andy Fasolino on 24 June 2014 at 07:03

what is the purpose of the existing council if the parish councils do all the work and are unpaid or recieve no allowances,yet you state it would cost more money to put in place if they are not given an allowance what is the extra money for as the council would already have money from goverment and council taxes to take care of them as well as the county council budgets for these areas,what is the extra bills for in establishing this, it seems to me this is being pushed onto people to pass the buck,if these parish councils can't raise money what happens then to the area?.Would this also inpact on house prices if one side of the town is in profit and the other at a loss surely this would reflect on house prices per area,i would vote no to this and let the borough council do what their suppost to do instead of getting someone else to do the work,it is alright for small villages but half a town is totally different budgeting.Will you also be paying twice for the same service once in council tax and once to a parish council,vote no it would work but you have to pay for the privalege what would happen if one side of the town has its grass cut and streets modernised and the other does'nt,it will cause annimosity and jealousy with the town being accused of favouritism and bias,leave it as it is before another disaster hits the area.

Posted by James O on 20 June 2014 at 09:17

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