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Consultation on creation of a Town Council for Kidderminster

This information explains the consultation process. It gives information about what a town council could do for Kidderminster if it was created and what effect it might have on you.

The consultation includes what is known as a local advisory poll. It is similar to a referendum. 

The question that will be asked is “Should Kidderminster have a town council?” and people will be able to vote “Yes” or “No”.

As part of the consultation, we are also consulting Worcestershire County Council and a range of other organisations.

 

If you live in Kidderminster and are entitled to vote in local council elections, you can vote in the local advisory poll. 

“Kidderminster” means the current district council wards of Broadwaters, Greenhill, Offmore and Comberton, Aggborough and Spennells, Oldington and Foley Park, Sutton Park, Habberley and Blakebrook and Franche. These are being replaced with effect from 7 May 2015 by the new district council wards of Broadwaters, Offmore & Comberton, Aggborough & Spennells, Foley Park & Hoobrook, Blakebrook & Habberley South and Franche & Habberley North. If you live in one of these wards, you will be able to vote in the poll if you are registered to vote in local elections.

Map showing present electoral wards, February 2015


A town council would give Kidderminster the same strengths, opportunities and voice as most other towns and villages in Wyre Forest and elsewhere.

A town council for Kidderminster could provide funding towards local projects, activities and initiatives that would benefit the town. By way of comparison, Bewdley Town Council helps to fund developments in the town including play facilities for young people and the Christmas decorations for the town. It maintains bus shelters, repairs the war memorials, and checks the lifebuoys along the river. It pays for summer and winter planting of tubs and hanging baskets in the main street. It also has responsibility for a “Millennium” Town Green situated at Wribbenhall. It is able to provide grant funding to a number of local voluntary and sporting organisations based in the town. Town Councillors represent the Town Council on a number of local organisations, such as Bewdley Civic Society, Community Transport Wyre Forest, Bewdley Development Trust and the Bewdley Medical Practice Patients’ Advisory Group plus a host of other community groups.

A town council for Kidderminster would have various powers to provide and run services and facilities for the town. By way of comparison, Stourport-on-Severn Town Council owns and runs the War Memorial Park in Lickhill Road and the Town’s Cemetery at St. Michael’s. In addition, the Town Council owns and manages two allotment sites, open space land, common land and the War Memorial Gardens and the Villeneuve-le-Roi Gardens in the centre of the Town. Following its transfer from Wyre Forest District Council, the Town Council owns the Civic Hall which is occupied and run by a Charity named the Civic Group; and adjacent to the Hall is the Civic Centre office building which is now owned by the County Council, following transfer from the District Council, where the Town Council will be in occupation of the top floor from early 2015.

A town council could take over responsibility for some local buildings and physical assets in Kidderminster such as parks, play areas and toilets. It could also take over responsibility for some services in Kidderminster that are presently run by other bodies. Some of these physical assets or services are being or could be affected by reductions in public spending, as the County Council, District Council and other public bodies decide what services they can afford to provide and operate in Kidderminster in future.

A town council would fund its activities from council tax. It would decide what amount of council tax to raise.

A town council would provide a democratic voice for Kidderminster - and only for Kidderminster - on the range of issues that affect the town. In particular, it would be formally consulted on planning applications affecting the town, in the same way as other town and parish councils are consulted about planning.

In summary, a town council for Kidderminster would mean that the town enjoyed the same advantages and opportunities as Bewdley and Stourport and villages in the district, such as Chaddesley Corbett, Cookley and Wolverley. As the Wyre Forest’s largest town, it is possible for a town council over time to have a greater impact than other town and parish councils.

It is likely that you will have to pay more council tax than you do now.

Town and parish councils decide how much funding they wish to raise from council tax.

The average house in Kidderminster pays council tax at Band B. In Wyre Forest, for 2015-16, the Band B council tax set by parish and town councils ranges from £10.04 to £37.04 for the whole year. This compares to £3.27 at Band B for the Kidderminster Charter Trustees. The two town councils have a Band B council tax of £20.00 (Bewdley) and £21.09 (Stourport-on-Severn).

The decision about council tax would be taken by a town council if one is created. For example, if a town council for Kidderminster decided to set its council tax for a year at about £20 at Band B, it would represent an increase of about £17, or about 32p a week, for properties in Band B. 

 

It depends mainly on the town council’s decision about council tax. If a town council set its council tax at about £20 at Band B, it would raise about £412,000 a year.

A town council might also be able to obtain some funding from other sources. Depending on which buildings and land were transferred from Wyre Forest District Council to the town council, Wyre Forest District Council could contribute funding to the town council to meet part of the cost of running those assets.

 

A town council can decide to rent or own buildings and land. These decisions would be taken by the town council if created. 
However if a town council is created for Kidderminster as a result of this review, Wyre Forest District Council can choose to transfer some of its buildings and land to the town council as part of what is called a reorganisation order. 
No decisions have yet been taken and the reorganisation order would be the subject of a separate consultation later in 2015. Buildings and land that might be transferred from the district council to a town council include:
- the parks and playing fields. This would not affect the management of playing fields by the Worcestershire Football Association or Kidderminster Carolians Rugby Football Club;
- toilets not in parks e.g. Market Street;
- statues and memorials not in parks e.g. statues of Richard Baxter and Sir Rowland Hill;
- ownership of land comprising allotments. This would not affect their management by the allotment associations.
The ownership of the Town Hall or other rights in respect of it might also be transferred from the district council to a town council. This will depend on the outcome of a separate process to examine whether a charity or cultural trust might take over ownership of the Town Hall.

If any assets were transferred to the town council, it would have to meet at least some of the costs of running those assets.

 

A town council would be made up of councillors directly elected by people in Kidderminster.
The number of town councillors has not yet been decided. This would be covered by a reorganisation order to be made by Wyre Forest District Council. The reorganisation order would create the town council, set out the arrangements for elections and so on. It would specify the number of town councillors and the areas that they would be elected to represent. The reorganisation order would be the subject of separate consultation later in 2015.
Members of town and parish councils do not receive pay or an allowance for being a councillor. However their councils can choose to pay their costs in travelling to attend meetings.

 

If created, Kidderminster Town Council would replace the Charter Trustees. 
The town council would elect a Mayor to undertake civic duties to represent the town.

 

If you register for a postal vote for the local government elections on 7 May 2015, you will also be sent a postal voting pack for the local advisory poll. You should follow the instructions in the pack and return your completed vote as quickly as possible. It needs to arrive no later than 10pm on Thursday 7 May 2015. You can also hand it in at a polling station on 7 May.

If you register for a proxy vote for the local government elections on 7 May 2015, the person you appoint as your proxy will be able to cast a vote on your behalf in the local advisory poll.

If you do not register for a postal or proxy vote, you can cast your vote in person at the same polling station that you will use for the local government elections on 7 May 2015. The polling station will be open from 7am to 10pm.

View list of polling stations that will be open on 7 May.

The votes in the local advisory poll will be counted on Monday 11 May 2015. The results of the poll will be published then.
Wyre Forest District Council will consider the results of the poll together with any other comments from the consultation at its meeting on 29 July 2015. It will then decide whether or not to go ahead with the creation of a town council. We will make sure that the Council’s decision is widely publicised.

Yes, you should let us know what you think. A review was undertaken in 2013 following the petition but this is a fresh review – if you want your views to be taken into account, you should use your vote.

Wyre Forest District Council feels that the previous review did not explain fully the reasons why a town council might be created. There may have been some confusion about what was being proposed and who should take part in the consultation. 
For example, in order to create a town council for Kidderminster, the town would have to be made into an administrative parish: this is not the same thing as a Church of England parish. People who had signed the petition may have felt that they did not also need to take part in the consultation we held in 2013 – as a result, their views were not taken into account. 
Finally, the Council did not pay for return postage in the consultation in 2013 and this may have put some people off from taking part.

The estimated cost is £40,000. This is being met by Wyre Forest District Council from a specific reserve intended for this purpose.

The consultation has been organised by Wyre Forest District Council as part of what is called a “community governance review” for Kidderminster. The community governance review began on 1 February 2015. 
A community governance review can consider a number of issues, including: whether to create a new parish/town council, whether to alter the boundary of an existing parish; and whether to group a number of parishes together in a grouped parish council. This review is looking only at whether or not to create a town council for Kidderminster.

Wyre Forest District Council has published terms of reference for the community governance review. 
You can also read the reports considered by Wyre Forest District Council:
on 26 March 2014. This sets out more detailed background and other options that were considered.  
on 10 December 2014. This covers the terms of reference for the review and the procedures to be used at the local advisory poll.
The website of the National Association of Local Councils contains information about the role and work of town and parish councils.

 

Please use your vote to let us know what you think. If you’ve got some additional comments that you want to make, please send them by email or post to arrive no later than 30 June 2015:


kidderminsterpoll@wyreforestdc.gov.uk

or

Sue Saunders
Electoral Services
Wyre Forest District Council, Wyre Forest House, Finepoint Way, Kidderminster, DY11 7WF

Charter Trustees were created by section 246(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 for a number of towns and cities where there was no parish council created in April 1974 and the district council for the area did not have the status of a borough. This was to ensure that the civic powers, rights and responsibilities of those towns or cities, including election of a mayor, could continue to be exercised. If Charter Trustees had not been created for Kidderminster in 1974, the office of Mayor of Kidderminster would have come to an end.

 

Added 1/4/15

Wyre Forest District Council undertook an options appraisal and this was included in a report to Council on 26 March 2014. See the options appraisal at Appendix 4 of the Council Agenda.

Added 1/4/15

The results will be published on the Council's website on Monday 11 May 2015. The Local Advisory Poll is part of a wider consultation on the future governance of Kidderminster.  Wyre Forest District Council will consider the results of the Local Advisory Poll together wit hany other comments from the consultation at its meeting on 29 July 2015. It will then decide whether or not to go ahead with the creation of a town council. We will make sure that the Council’s decision is widely publicised.

 

Added 21/4/15

Any more questions about the consultation?

If this information has not answered your question about the consultation, please email us at kidderminsterpoll@wyreforestdc.gov.uk and we will try to answer you. If several people ask a similar question, we will update this information so everyone can see the answer. If you wish to register to vote and have not already registered, please register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. If you wish to arrange a postal vote or proxy vote, or have any other questions about the arrangements for voting on 7 May, please phone 01562 732928.



Wyre Forest District Council