Localism Bill

Memorandum submitted by Fleet Town Council (L 04)

Fleet Town Council would like to respond to the HAPTC measures proposed regarding the Localism Bill as follows:

Election Costs: Fleet Town Council suggest that rules for nomination, verification, etc, be standardised across all election types. On a related matter, a concern about costs of referendums must, however, be raised. Fleet Town Council believe that the threshold for parishioners being able to call for a referendum is too low, and will result in substantial and unbudgeted costs for councils. It is suggested that an electronic version of such referendums could vastly reduce costs of setting up voting stations. It is further recommended that there should be limits on the frequency with which a referendum could be called on a single item.

Powers: In general the Fleet Town Council agree that the power of competence is much stronger than the power of well being.

Co-opted councillors. Fleet Town Council would not support a change to allowances and other benefits for co-opted councillors. Many small councils make insufficient effort to attract people to stand for election. Co-option should not be the norm, and safeguards against councils being run on a small self-propagating clique should remain.

A better solution would be to require allowances not to discriminate against any particular group. E.g. parents of small children.

Creating/abolishing local councils: In our experience, the district council made great efforts to establish the new parishes, and reflect what people want.

Procedure: Fleet Town Council believe that services of notices by email should be permitted. In essence it should be for local councils to decide how they wish to pay bills, correspond, etc. It is important to consider adherence to national objectives such as notice period and protection against fraudulent use or theft of funds.

Land Disposal: The current law does not prevent disposal to community trusts – it just makes it harder. There is a balance to be struck between ‘best value’ and ‘community’ and the balance could be too lenient and permit fraudulent transfers.

Byelaws: Fleet Town Council believe that parishes should be permitted to set their own byelaws for issues within their competence.

Community right to Build. Government ministers have made it quite clear that this terminology includes parish councils. However, they have also made it clear that it does not have to be a parish council where that council is not acting on behalf of the whole community. In particular they singled out a case where parishes have a large number of co-opted councillors. Fleet Town Council agree with the government’s position on this.

Licences: Fleet Town Council strongly support parishes being notified of licence applications and consulted on them.

Heavy Goods Operators Licences: Fleet Town Council agree with parishes being consulted on applications regarding HGV’s.

A further response Fleet Town Council would like to add is that there is currently, within the bill, no opportunity or ability for parish councils to comment on the effectiveness of a two tier versus a three tier system for primary authorities.

January 2011