Hersham Community Council
Hersham Community Council
Hersham Community Council – an independent view from The Hersham Hub.
You may have seen this statement on our various, borough wide, social media channels.
So you’ve probably all received something in the post about this proposed Hersham Community Council.
Our independent view on this is:
1. It will force an unwanted increase in council tax (meaning, pro rata, Hersham residents will pay more Council Tax than the rest of the borough) in order to pay for its administration and its members expenses (!**), those least able to afford this increase in council tax will have no choice but to accept this additional financial burden just for a local vanity project.
** We are currently awaiting confirmation on the annual cost of administration and Parish Council member ‘expenses’ from Claygate.
2. Do we really need yet another layer of local governance? We’ll have the Conservatives bickering with the RA’s at the council and the Lib Dem’s (who, unsurprisingly along with the failing HVS, seem to be driving this community council proposal) providing yet more complication at ‘Parish Council’ level.
3. It seems to be an undemocratic land grab by failed or failing local politicians.
But, we are currently speaking with various community representatives from Claygate (who have this additional local setup for a while now) to get some ‘for’ and ‘against’ comments based on their own experiences thus far.
We will also be asking those involved in this proposal what this Parish Council will deliver that is currently not available with the current borough and county level governance as we are at a loss as to what this will be.
Watch this space as they say!
UPDATE 1st September :
Great to speak to one of the organisers of the Hersham Community Council campaign earlier today where we invited him to send us a supporting view of why he thinks a Hersham Community Council would be a good thing as well as examples of any tangible benefits that are perceived over and above what we currently get from our Borough and County elected representatives.
UPDATE 3rd September :
I’d like to thank Christopher Goldsack, a supporter of the Hersham Community Council campaign, for taking the time send us in his response to some of the points and concerns I raised above which I have included in full below:
Christopher Goldsack :
“I quite understand that there is concern about the proposal to establish a community council for Hersham, but in my view it is an opportunity that needs careful consideration. 1000 Hersham residents put their names to a petition to launch a consultation into whether there was an appetite to have a community council, and the documents sent out by the Borough Council recently are their formal response to this.
It is really important to discuss the issue now and come to a considered decision.
I would like to thank Nigel for inviting me to answer some of his points made two days ago on the Hersham Hub, even though I clearly hold a different opinion to him!
The proposal was first put forward to give Hersham a unifying voice.
The last changes in ward boundaries reduced our representation in the borough council from 6 to 3 Councillors, with nine others from neighbouring wards having a say in our affairs.
Many if not most Hersham residents are now therefore minorities in their Councillors’ wards. Though I am sure most borough Councillors would want to represent all their members fairly, I fear they have to make sure they make the majority happy first.
It is not a happy position for our village. To add insult to injury, the parliamentary boundaries now also divide it in two.
We are seeking to give Hersham a voice that can speak for the whole community and help it retain its integrity and sense of identity… but a community council will have other benefits too.
A community council is a secular, non-party-political level of governance.
It is formally constituted and has a significant budget.
It will have much more teeth than a residents’ association.
Anyone on the electoral role as a Hersham resident can be a member of a community council.
They would be elected volunteers, so unpaid. It is important to note that the council should be there to serve the needs of Hersham residents and businesses and may not have a political affiliation.
Can a council member be a member of a political party?… yes, but they cannot use the platform for party-political purposes. Indeed, experienced local politicians would only benefit a council with their knowledge.
I have to take issue with Nigel on a couple of points in his post.
To say that there are “failed” local politicians involved I feel is a little disingenuous on people who have chosen to fight campaigns representing parties that will never gain favour locally, but who have done so as principled representatives of their politics.
Also, to suggest it is an undemocratic process is simply not true. Democracy is about expressing the will of the people. Nothing has been imposed on anyone – a democratic question has been put to residents, and if it gains favour, democratic elections will be held to choose Councillors, who will be spending their time voluntarily working for their community.
There is no getting away from the fact that having a community council would cost a little. This would be collected by a precept added to, and collected at the same time as, the council tax. It is expected the cost would be about £2 a month per household for a band D property.
At a time when the council tax itself has risen sharply this is not a decision to be taken lightly. As Nigel has pointed out it is a charge Claygate residents already pay. However it is important to understand that, other than funding a clerk to manage the budget professionally, the whole of this budget would be used for the benefit of the community – and not spent on projects that should rightly be the responsibility of the Borough and County Councils. The total capital available would make a real difference to the community.
I have written enough for one post. We have prepared a newsletter that goes into greater depth about the powers of a community council and what a community council should expect to have to do. The newsletter is already available on the Hersham Community Council website. It will be delivered to households in Hersham. Its intention is to clarify points made in the consultation document so that residents can make a considered choice.
One final point – we have been holding regular meetings, of course. Anyone who would like to discuss points raised here further is welcome to come and join us. We will ensure some of us are at the Waterman’s Arms on Thursday evenings at 8pm for the duration of the consultation period.
The provisos: whether in favour or not, courtesy is expected and party politics are left outside the door!“
I’d like to thank Christopher again for sending in the above information, I still remain personally unconvinced but thought it might be useful to arrange an open Q and A session for any local residents who are unable to get out to The Waterman’s Arms for their Thursday evening meet ups.
I’m delighted that Christopher has agreed and we have arranged an ‘Ask Me Anything’ session for this Friday (7th September) at 19:30.
This will take place in The Hersham Hub Facebook Group (www.facebook.com/groups/HershamHubCommunity/) where Christopher will be available to answer any questions local residents may have about the proposed Hersham Community Council.
In the meantime I have attached a link to the September Hersham Community Council Newsletter which gives some firm examples of what powers and responsibilities a Community Council has.
You can download the newsletter here: HCC Newsletter Sept v3
You can also find out more about the Hersham Community Council on their website: http://www.hersham-community-council.org.uk/
If you have any queries, questions or concerns please do try and make the Q & A session on Friday where Christopher can hopefully provide some answers.
Have you joined The Hersham Hub group on Facebook?
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