Letchworth Garden City Town Council faces dissolution

THE first move to axe a highly criticised town council started this week. Letchworth Town Council, which has come under fire since its inception four years ago, could be facing dissolution in four years time. So far, it has cost local council tax payers

THE first move to axe a highly criticised town council started this week.

Letchworth Town Council, which has come under fire since its inception four years ago, could be facing dissolution in four years time.

So far, it has cost local council tax payers �1.4 million.

In June HELP (Help Eliminate Letchworth Parish Council) campaigners had a landslide victory in the council elections taking 22 of the 24 seats and have now set in motion their promise to close the town council.


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On Monday night town councillors discussed the transition plan document that set out the stages that will be undertaken to formulate the demise of the council.

Speaking after Monday's meeting the chairman of the town council Cllr George Ritchie said: "This is what the people of Letchworth voted for in June and why we were elected. Some people don't share these views but we are respecting the majority of people who voted for us.

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"But we have a long way to go before this council can be closed down, possibly four years until the next elections. But we will not be spending money; in fact we are making cuts in services to take spending to a minimum.

"Members voted to accept the recommendation that for now the council should stop all of its discretionary activities. In fact virtually all such activity had already stopped."

Mr Ritchie added: "The council agreed that it wanted to move to a way of working where it would do only the minimum amount required to comply with its legal obligations, with the intent that next year's tax bills be as low as they possibly can be and that this sort of approach should apply from the end of the year.

"The transition team will help get the council from where it is now to where it wants to be by the end of the year."

But one of the two opposition councillors hit back at the decision to start winding up the council.

Cllr Sue Johnson said: "All town councils belong to the people they represent. They have a duty to speak up for the people. It shames our town to have a council that will neither act nor speak.

"The abolition of the town council would be a backward step for Letchworth and its people. The promise of the HELP group to close it is in fact a false promise.

"Elected members do not have the authority to abolish the council. This can only be achieved through a community governance review, which is conducted under ministerial guidance and involves mature debate with the town's people as to what they actually want.

"The HELP-run council has not commissioned a review because they are afraid this would be unsuccessful.

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