In March 2016 a petition signed by 3816 people was presented to Rother for a “Community Governance Review” specifically calling for the setting up of an Area Committee for Bexhill. In September the Rother Cabinet agreed to hold the review which will also consider creating a new parish for Bexhill. Creating a parish for Bexhill will mean the town could have an elected “Town Council” like Rye. (Rye Town Council has the same status as a parish council but also elects a mayor). A steering committee of seven councillors was set up to manage the review including Lord Ampthill – Rye’s District Councillor.
The first stage consultation has begun and lasts until the end of March. A second consultation begins around August with the final recommendations being approved by the whole Council in November.
Why is a Governance Review necessary?
Ever since the creation of Rother District Council, at the time of the last major re-organisation of Local Government in 1974, there has been a sense that Bexhill lacks its own council. In Rye and Battle, where the local boroughs were abolished at the same time, new parishes were created to give Rye and Battle their own elected town councils. But in Bexhill, the role of the local parish council was taken over by the newly created Rother District Council. There has been a body called the Bexhill Forum that seeks to address this lack of democratic representation but clearly has not worked for everybody – hence the petition.
What is an Area Committee?
Several district authorities have Area Committees made up of the local ward councillors. A local example is Eastleigh – a borough that has some similarities to Rother in that it is part urban and part rural. Here there are 5 area committees each of which has most of the powers of a local authority including planning, leisure facilities, traffic and each has its own budget.
Link to Eastleigh Borough Council website HERE
What does it mean for Rye?
For a very long time there has been a feeling in Rye that Rother spends too much time and money on Bexhill at the expense of Rye and District. Nearly half (18) of the 38 Councillors on Rother represent Bexhill. Creating either a parish and/or an Area Committee for Bexhill will have the benefit of transferring most local Bexhill matters from the agenda of the local authority and leave it more time to think about the rural area. If an Area Committee is formed for Bexhill, it is likely to lead to a demand for a similar area committees for other areas in Rother including Rye and District.
If you would like to respond to this consultation this is Rother’s website. It is very informative and should answer all your questions including other options for the future governance such as neighbourhood and community forum. There is also a link to the survey form.
Link to the Rother District Website page HERE
Link to Rother’s questions and answers about review HERE
If you have any further questions you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Government guidance on Community Governance Reviews is HERE
A Community Governance Review can be triggered if just 10% of registered electors petition for it.
Photo: Dave Bloggs
Image Credits: Rye News library .