Town council on the cards?

PRESSURE is mounting for Hitchin to have its own town council so that residents interests can be better represented. In last week s Comet we reported how plans to change the structure of North Herts District Council s area committees, in a bid to save th

PRESSURE is mounting for Hitchin to have its own town council so that residents' interests can be better represented.

In last week's Comet we reported how plans to change the structure of North Herts District Council's area committees, in a bid to save the council £50,000, have annoyed some councillors - especially as the political majority of the Hitchin area committee would change hands from Labour to Conservative.

The chairman of the committee Cllr Judi Billing stated that she thought a town council could be beneficial for the town.

This week she tells The Comet why.


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"Churchgate hasn't progressed; the council hasn't helped with the town hall plans; toilets are threatened with closure, and residents' parking schemes in my ward are never put into operation.

"And now, the council intends to change the Hitchin committee beyond all recognition, have local planning issues decided in Letchworth and get rid of a community development officer."

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Cllr Billing went on to say that the time has come to explore the possibility of a town council for Hitchin, with "real decision making powers and small amounts of local budgets" which would be used for the benefit of the town.

Cllr Billing's comments were echoed by a spokesman of Hitchin Forum, an organisation which aims to improve the town.

The spokesman said: "More local control of services and facilities would clearly benefit the town.

"Town councils can run things like public loos - and have them saved from closure - markets, town halls, community centres and allotments."

According to the National Association of Local Councils' website, over 150 new town councils have been created since 1997.

They can be set up under Section 11 of the Local Government and Rating Act 1997 which allows any town or neighbourhood community to collect a petition for a new town council and for them to define the area which the council will cover.

Once the petition had 10 per cent of registered electors' signatures, the decision would be down to the Government's communities and local government office, not North Hertfordshire District Council.

If a town council was to be established in Hitchin it would be following in the footsteps of Letchworth GC, where one was set one up in May 2005.

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