Lewes Forum thread

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Two councils

On 9 May 2015 at 8:29pm Confused wrote:
Why have we got two councils - town and district - both with big budgets. Town spends over a million on what? Can't we have one or is there a technical reason for it?
On 9 May 2015 at 8:56pm Sussex Jim wrote:
One council is just for the town; and the other is for the whole Lewes district- from Wivelsfield through to Seaford, including three seats in Lewes.
On 9 May 2015 at 9:38pm Waterloo Bonfire Boy wrote:
Minor correction to the above post - there are actually seven district council seats in Lewes itself. The seats are in three wards (3 in Priory, 2 in Castle, 2 in Bridge).
On 10 May 2015 at 7:06am Franky Goes to Hollywood wrote:
On 10 May 2015 at 8:22am easily unconfused wrote:
Confused - ever tried asking the right people? or looking on a website or two?
On 10 May 2015 at 8:46am Clifford wrote:
Yes, Easily Confused, but that doesn't answer the question why we need two councils.
On 10 May 2015 at 9:18am Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
I actually think it's a good question.
I can see there is merit to have a body at parish/town level to deal with truly local matters. After all, what does it matter to the councillor for Wivelsfield if there is a problem with a park bench in Seaford? I don't see why it needs to be a separate council though, with all the attendant costs, it's own clerk, mayoralty etc.
The district councils could delegate the very local matters to a committee made up of the councillors for each area. I'm sure it would be far cheaper. The local view when consulted on planning and other matters could still be submitted, even when it differs from that of the district council as a whole, by permitting local committees to submit a minority response.
Mind you, I don't see why we have to have county and district councils, either. Single tier local government is far more efficient and I see nothing wrong with it as long as there is provision for local matters to be devolved to a local level.
On 10 May 2015 at 11:12am Metatron wrote:
Great response ACT.
How could your vision get to become a reality? The money saved would improve services.
On 10 May 2015 at 12:23pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
Oh, quite easily, really.
Just get parliament to agree to a review of local government structures, appoint someone suitably impartial to head it, agree terms of reference and timescales, have it spend years listening to evidence, finally come up with some recommendations, report them to the government/parliament, circulate them for consultation, report again on the outcome of that, possibly produce a green paper and consult and report but this stage might not be necessary, produce a white paper, which would have more detailed proposals including boundaries, process etc,consult again, then stick a bill before parliament and get it through all 4 stages of the legislative process.

Then it would take a good few years to implement once approved. The last Local Government Commission took 10 years to do half a job, leaving us with 3 councils in some areas and just one in others. Abolishing 2 whole tiers might take a bit longer.
I reckon 20 years from start to finish, which is 4 parliaments, which is probably why that nettle has never been grasped.
Just abolishing the town/parish councils and setting up local committees within district councils with delegated powers ought to be a lot quicker, but probably wouldn't.
There are lots of vested interests in local government, not least that of councillors themselves. I believe some parish councils pay their chairmen a couple of grand a year, district and county councils pay a few grand to all councillors, so someone on all three councils is probably making a lot more than minimum wage.
A good councillor will work damn hard and deserve it, but there are a fair few who are little more than lobby fodder.
On 10 May 2015 at 8:09pm LDC Worker wrote:
Well thanks Fran, for trying to do us hard working Council people, out of a job. We're not all shirkers like they are up at County (which I believe you have experience of).
On 11 May 2015 at 12:28am Fairmeadow wrote:
The real overlap is between District & County. Many parts of the country manage with only one unitary authority to do both jobs, but that works best when (as in Brighton) there is really just one big community - a city or large town and its hinterland.
It is arguable East Sussex isn't like that - does Lewes have much in common with Hastings or Bexhill or Eastbourne or Hailsham or Crowborough, much larger towns that would dominate an East Sussex unitary? Mind you, Lewes doesn't have much in common with Seaford or Peacehaven either.
On 12 May 2015 at 3:25pm Slarty wrote:
That's the point of three councils.
Town - deals with matters that will only affect the town (ie allotments, bus shelters, amenity lighting, commons, village halls, playing fields and war memorials).
District - deals with matters that will affect the whole district
(ie education, fire, highways (including on-street parking, traffic management, and street lighting), libraries, recreation (arts and museums), trading standards, transport and waste disposal)
Government deals with national matters.
A 1-tier system could lead to No.10 deciding on playing field use in Lewes. The 3-tier system (should) means that, in the case of Lewes, local Lewes people control what happens in Lewes that does not affect other people, people from the district control what happens to the district and decisions that will affect the country as a whole are messed up, er, decided by the nationally elected people.
The price of local people making local decisions is a 3-tier set-up and the associated costs.

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