On a historic day for Lowestoft, Waveney District Council has agreed proposals which will see the creation of a new Town Council for Lowestoft and a new Parish Council for Oulton Broad, the first in these areas since local government reorganisation over 40 years ago.
Following a long and detailed engagement campaign in which residents were asked for their views on the proposals at various stages, this landmark decision will see the new councils created on 1st April 2017 with the first elections taking place on 4th May next year. Waveney District Council Leader, Colin Law, believes that this is a momentous time for the town.
“This is a fantastic day and a historic decision for the people of Lowestoft and Oulton Broad. For decades, the un-parished area of the town have been deprived of a council directly representing their needs and ambitions; councils which play a vital role in supporting and enhancing a community’s identity, services and quality of life.
A new town council for Lowestoft, and parish council for Oulton Broad, will be best placed to understand the issues in this area and will provide a local voice for residents, delivering the things that residents want to see. These services will be directly for the benefit of the local area and residents will now have greater control over the level of service they receive. This is particularly important in the context of the proposed merger of Waveney and Suffolk Coastal District Council, which could result in the district council area becoming larger.”
The new organisations will be funded in part by an addition to the annual council tax bill which will be raised by the councils themselves. This is in line with the ‘precept’ that is paid to existing town and parish councils in Waveney and around the country. However Cllr Law says that the creation of these new councils will create greater funding opportunities for local services.
“The new councils can also apply for grant‐funding for specific initiatives and projects, and receive additional funding from things such as Section 106 and ‘Community Infrastructure Levy’ money.
Town and parish councils can secure funding towards local projects, activities and initiatives, including play facilities for young people, and grant funding for local voluntary and sporting organisations. In some cases external funding is only available to town or parish councils and not to district or county councils which means that new funding and previous unavailable funding could be secured.”
In addition, the councils will also play an important role in planning consultations and shaping the development of the local area, including being able to develop a Neighbourhood Plan. They will be consulted on each planning application for their area and will be given the opportunity to object to any development that they do not consider appropriate.”
A Reorganisation Order to create the new councils will be made in January 2017. The new councils will then officially come into being on 1st April 2017, although the first elections will take place on 4th May. Candidates will be invited to stand for election in March when the nomination process begins. The first set of councillors that are elected will be in post for two years until the scheduled local elections in May 2019. From this point the elections will fall into a four‐year cycle in line with the other town/parish council elections and district council elections in Waveney.
Consideration will also be given to a home for the new councils and Cllr Law is confident that a decision for the benefit of the local community will be made.
“Lowestoft Town Council may, either immediately or in the longer‐term, wish to operate from the Town Hall building in Lowestoft. We know that many local residents are keen to see the Town Hall building used by the new Council, and to retain the heritage and historic value of the building as well as making a focus for the historic High Street area.
The Town Hall building is currently owned and maintained by Waveney District Council but the council believes that the future of the building should be a decision for the people of Lowestoft. It is therefore intended that the Town Hall will be transferred to the new Lowestoft Town Council for them to make the best decision for the town.”
Further information about the Lowestoft Review is available at www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/lowestoftcgr