Town council: Youth involvement needed for the benefit of our town

Younger residents need to have a greater say in the future running of Bexhill, it has been claimed.

Councillor Christine Bayliss said the response from young people to the prospect of having a town council had been “disappointing”.

But she insisted there was “appetite for greater coordination” should the Full Council back plans to set up the new administration.

“If it agrees our recommendation in September, I’d like to urge councillors to consider how we engage with our younger residents in setting up the council,” she said.

Backing of Bexhill residents

Speaking at a meeting of Rother District Council’s cabinet, which voted unanimously in favour of setting up the administration, she said the plan had the support of Bexhill residents.

“Less than 500 local residents (who responded to the consultation) said they didn’t want a town council – despite a well run anti town council campaign,” she said. 

Plans to set up a town council come after two public consultations.

The most recent consultation saw the council receive 2,208 responses – 4.6% of the population. Of those responding, 78% were in favour of a town council being created and 22% against.

“If people are really concerned about spending and council tax going up, I urge them to stand and let’s have a proper debate about costs at the right time,” she said.

Councillor Christine Bayliss

The proposal would see nine wards, each represented by two councillors. If it gets approved by the Full Council later this month then elections could take place in May 2021.

Cllr Bayliss acknowledged fears that setting up a town council could result in extra costs at a time when finances were tight for some families.

However, she emphasised that major spending decisions, other than the setting up costs, should be left to the councillors that get elected.

“If people are really concerned about spending and council tax going up, I urge them to stand and let’s have a proper debate about costs at the right time,” she said.

Cllr Bayliss also pointed out that Rye and Battle were able to get their mutual aid programmes running quicker than Bexhill because they had a local council infrastructure in place.

“The pandemic has brought a sense of increased neighbourliness, community spirit and volunteering, involving all ages and all backgrounds,” she added. |If we can tap into that spirit then the town council could be launched on a tide of good will and get off to a flying start.”

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