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Lowestoft Town Council and Oulton Broad Parish Council

A new town council for Lowestoft and a new parish council for Oulton Broad are being created.

These new councils are being created following recommendations from a Community Governance Review which was carried out by Waveney District Council in 2016. The Review looked at whether a new town/parish council (or councils) should be created for the Lowestoft area.

Outside of Lowestoft and Oulton Broad, all of the other towns and villages in the district have their own town or parish councils. For over 40 years, residents in Lowestoft and Oulton Broad have missed out on having the additional resources and level of representation that a town/parish council brings to an area. New councils for Lowestoft and Oulton Broad will address this democratic deficit and give residents the same opportunities as those in other areas.

The recommendations to create new councils for Lowestoft and Oulton Broad were formalised in a Reorganisation Order which was made on 26 January 2017.

About the new councils

Lowestoft Town Council Oulton Broad Parish Council

Elections

The new councils will officially come into being in Law on 1 April 2017. At that stage however they will not have any councillors in post.

The first elections to the councils were held on 4 May 2017 and the councillors that were elected will be in post for 2 years until the scheduled local elections in May 2019. From this point the elections will take place every 4 years in line with the other town/parish council elections and district council elections in Waveney.

First meetings of the new councils

What is a town/parish council?

Town and parish councils are a local council just for your immediate village/town area.

They range in size from small rural parishes representing a hundred or so people, to larger town councils representing thousands of people.

They:

  • Are the most local level of government for an area
  • Operate at a grass‐roots level
  • Provide representation and, in some cases, provision of services to their immediate local area
  • Perform a separate and distinctly different function to the district council and county council which operate at a much wider level
  • Bring a unique set of benefits for the local area

Town and parish councils play a vital role in supporting and enhancing their community’s identity, services and quality of life. They can do this because they are based locally, operating within their local community. This means they are best placed to understand the issues within their areas and can provide a more focused and tailored response as a result.

They can make a difference by:

  • Attracting new funding for the area (for example for activities/play equipment/sports)
  • Increasing the focus on priorities for the immediate area
  • Giving local residents a stronger voice
  • Enabling more local decision-making
  • Having control over local assets and service delivery
  • Ensuring there is greater local representation
  • Having greater influence over future development in the area (including development of a ‘Neighbourhood Plan’)

As well as being able to deliver a range of key local services, town and parish councils are also able to support events and initiatives which promote community spirit and inclusiveness; award grants to community groups, sports clubs, charities or other voluntary sector organisations; invest in the town’s public spaces; recognise volunteers; and regularly ask the question “what else can we do for the local area?”

How will the new councils be funded?

Town and parish councils are funded mainly by contributions from the households in each parish area, however they also receive income from any assets they own, they can apply for grant-funding (sometimes from sources that are only available to town and parish councils), and they receive contributions from things like Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funds.

The new town council for Lowestoft and the new parish council for Oulton Broad will receive contributions from the households in its area which will be collected as part of the annual council tax bill each year. These contributions will create a ‘Neighbourhood Fund’, and this money will be ring-fenced for the town/parish council to be used solely within the town/parish council area for local issues. This allows decisions to be made by local people to decide the priorities for the local area and for money to be spent on the things that really matter to the residents that are contributing.

What is the difference between the role of a Parish Councillor and a District Councillor?

District councillors

There are 48 District councillors in Waveney, each representing their own ward area, but the decisions they make are on a district-wide basis, for things that affect the whole of the Waveney area.

District councillors make decisions about things like:

  • Planning and Building Control – where new developments can be built, permission for the change of use of buildings, and decisions on planning policy for the future
  • Housing – provision of housing for council tenants
  • Licensing – granting of licenses for taxi drivers, alcohol sales, entertainment and gambling
  • Environmental Health – food safety, pest control, fly-tipping and dog warden services

The roles and responsibilities of current Waveney councillors would not change in any way with the introduction of a new parish/town council(s). The Waveney District councillors that cover the Lowestoft area do so as District councillors, representing the area for district council issues. The creation of a new town/parish council(s) would not impact on the role of the District councillors in any way, as the new Parish councillors would be covering different areas of responsibility and focussing on different issues.

Parish/Town councillors

Parish councillors deal with decisions that affect the immediate local area, lobbying on behalf of their community and representing the views of their local residents in relation to any issues/matters of concern affecting them directly.

These are usually more local issues such as:

  • Play areas and play equipment
  • Grants for local organisations
  • Consultation on local planning
  • Allotments
  • Bus shelters
  • Community centres
  • Memorial benches
  • Grit bins
  • Provision of some local services (depending on the whether the council operates any services)

Town and parish councillors work alongside district councillors and county councillors representing the same electorate, but for different purposes. Up to now, the Lowestoft and Oulton Broad areas have missed out on having this extra level of representation and have therefore not benefited from the extra resources and extra focus having a town/parish council can bring to an area.

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