Letchworth electorate support town council abolition

THREE-QUARTERS of a town’s electorate who took part in a survey which will help decide the future of a council have said they support the proposal to abolish it.

A total of 74 per cent of respondents were in favour of dissolving Letchworth Garden City Council in a questionnaire which forms part of a Community Governance Review launched to determine whether the town council should be dissolved. Sixteen per cent said they were against the proposal.

Surveys were sent out in May to 28,000 Letchworth GC residents with just under 5,000 responding before the deadline in June.

The results, compiled by Opinion Research Services on behalf of North Herts District Council (NHDC), which is overseeing the review, also revealed that 83 per cent of respondents do not feel the town council has benefited the community at all since its formation in 2005.

Members of NHDC will meet at full council tomorrow night (Thursday) to formulate a draft proposal based on the results, with a recommendation to put forward a proposal to abolish the town council and the civil parish arrangement, subject to a further public consultation. The second six-week consultation will take place between August and October with a final decision on the future of the town council expected in January 2013.

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Currently 21 of the 24 members of the town council represent Help Eliminate Letchworth Parish council (HELP), which formed with the sole objective of abolishing the town council and called for the review.

Councillor Frank Lovett, chairman of Letchworth Garden City Council, said: “Once again, and consistently on all occasions since 2008 when they have been asked, Letchworth taxpayers have decided overwhelmingly to abolish Letchworth town council.

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“I do hope that the Letchworth town council supporters group will now finally accept the democratically expressed view of Letchworth people that a town council is irrelevant to their needs and is an expense that is not wanted. I dare to hope that this is the beginning of the end for the town council.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of Letchworth residents who have supported HELP in bringing about this marvellous result for our local community.”

In a joint statement, Cllr Sue Johnson and Cllr Paul Ross, who both represent the Town Council Supporters Party, said: “In response to NHDC conclusions gleaned from responses to the Community Governance Review survey, there are no surprises here.

“Given that for the past three years the HELP-run town council has been completely inactive it has been impossible for townspeople to experience the benefits to be gained from one representing them and working on their behalf. We also note that comments from those complaining that they could not answer questions for this reason are omitted. Again, no surprise here.”

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