STAGE TWO HAS NOW BEGUN
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Power to the people
In Stage 1 of the Community Governance Review a massive 61% of local people living inside the area of the proposed parish and who responded freely using the official online survey SAID YES to the creation of a town council. This is an amazing result for people power and means the second stage (which began on 06 March and ends 28 May) must include options for the creation of a new parish.
The Second Stage of the Community Governance Review consultation is now YOUR opportunity to confirm what is best for our town.
This is the biggest decision in the history of Spitalfields & Banglatown: the creation of a new parish to be called ‘Spitalfields & Banglatown’ with its own democratically elected town/parish council. If we succeed, this proposal will empower local people and give them the democratic tools they need to make positive changes to our town. It will place Tower Hamlets at the vanguard of localism and progressive local politics in London and hopefully lead to more areas choosing to empower local people.
If a new parish is created, there is one thing you can be entirely certain about; Spitalfields & Banglatown remains part of Tower Hamlets. We are proud to be one of the ‘Hamlets of the Tower’ and nothing will change that fact; there will be no barriers, no borders and no walls.
Tower Hamlets Council will continue to do everything it does today unless the people of our town decide (at some later date) that there is something the borough council does which they think the town council may be well placed to do better.
For example, might a town (or parish) council be better placed to direct the cleaning contractors working in the streets of Spitalfields & Banglatown? Could the town council deliver better value for money for local tax payers if it took control of this service (the money for street cleaning would still come from Tower Hamlets) and directed it according to the interests of the people who live and run businesses in our town? This is an example of the sort of service the town council could consider taking control of in the future.
The town council could take over the roles of many of the active committees operating in the area, thus putting decisions into the hands of people with democratic legitimacy. It could also take over the organising of local festivals and public events to provide transparency and ensure the promotion of the town was responsible and in the interests of everyone.
The creation of a town council would empower the people of Spitalfields & Banglatown by giving them choices. It would put the power to make decisions such as these into the hands of local representatives, elected by you.
More money raised here will be spent here
The town council would not be a “waste of money”. In fact, the existence of a town council would guarantee more of the money raised here was spent here on local priorities. The town council would be due a portion of the funds (called CIL) raised when new developments take place in our town. Most of the money would continue to go to Tower Hamlets to spend as they wish, but we could guarantee a modest portion of it stayed here where it could be spent on the things local people want.
Spitalfields urgently needs new infrastructure to support its growing population as well as the vast numbers of visitors we get day and night. This could include providing public toilets, better pavements, cleaner and safer parks and gardens and measures to reduce crime and ASB. All these things could be paid for through the CIL and we want to ensure our town gets its fair share.
It is right and fair that the people subjected to all the disruption and impacts of so many development projects taking place on the ‘city fringe’ should see more of the benefits meant to derive from those developments spent closer to where they live and work.
A new town council would give the people of our town complete control over a portion of that money and a guarantee it was spent on local priorities determined by you. This is not money being taken away from anyone anywhere else because the Mayor and Borough have already committed to spending “up to 25%” of the CIL money raised in any area in that local area; this is just putting the decision about how that money is spent in the hands of a broader group of local people.
The town council would need to raise a small amount of money in a ‘precept’ to cover its operating expenses. This is collected as part of the Council Tax. The average amount town and parish councils raise in a precept is about £1 per week on Band D properties. The amount our town would have to pay to cover its only financial obligation (the salary of a town clerk and their associated office expenses) would be less than this. Town councillors are unpaid and do not get ‘allowances’.
The table below shows the national average parish annual precept for all council tax bands. This is an estimation of what the creation of a new parish will cost each household that pays Council Tax per year. For the majority of our population - those people living in social housing Band A-C - the cost of the new parish will work out at between 82p - £1.09 per week.
It has been estimated by LBTH that there are 3,277 properties in the proposed town area which would generate £209,892 a year, based on the figures in the table above.
Queen’s Park Parish in Westminster is the only other parish/town in Greater London and it has a similar number of taxable properties to us. Queen’s Park spends £39,047 in staff costs per year which is the salary of the parish clerk who works full time and does all the administrative work. There would be other fixed overheads to do with a workplace for this one employee but it is possible they could work from home (as many parish clerks do) or simply rent a desk' in a local ‘hot-desking’ facility, of which there are many in the local area, such as Second Home.
We believe that Spitalfields & Banglatown should be run in a similar manner and be able to spend around £150,000 net per year on local projects designed by local people to make our town a better place to live, work and visit.
In short, for a very small amount of additional funding, the town council would unlock larger amounts of money, already raised here, and direct them to be spent on the things local people think the town needs most.
Revitalising our democracy
The borough council wards are huge. The Spitalfields & Banglatown Ward has about 12,600 inhabitants and is represented by two councillors. These councillors do their best but the ward is enormous and the needs of the people in this part of the borough with its unique pressures are many. It is unreasonable to expect every case to get the attention it deserves.
The creation of a town council would revitalise local society by creating between six and twelve town councillors for about 8,000 inhabitants. These town councillors would champion your interests by listening to local opinion and then leading the work on either supporting or opposing various licensing and planning proposals as and when they arose.
The town council could be our local advocates - champions of the people, not beholden to party politics - fighting every day for what was best for our town.
The existence of the town council would build bridges between communities by providing a fair, transparent and democratic forum for the direction of local resources and cooperation in areas of shared concern.
We propose that this town council is subdivided with three town council wards within it. This would help ensure that the voices of people living in different parts of the town were all represented fairly on the town council.
A note on the name
If a parish is created it will now be called Spitalfields & Banglatown.
Banglatown is a cherished part of Spitalfields and an integral part of our local heritage.