Lancashire County Labour Group have agreed to support a Skelmersdale Town Council if that is what local people want. It’s important that local people know what it entails regarding democratic structures, service provision and how much this will all cost on top of the current combined council taxes. This is because town councils and parishes do cost local people more money through the precept is not a replacement for existing council tax costs. The precept unlike the other authorities is not capped by government as such it can set its own tax.
There are town and parish councils all over Lancashire and in West Lancashire, only Skelmersdale and Ormskirk are not covered by a 1st level authority. A Skelmersdale Town Council would result in three levels of local government, Lancashire County Council, West Lancashire Borough Council and Skelmersdale Town Council. Working alongside this would be Lancashire Police Commissioner and Lancashire Fire Authority.
The legislation to establish a town council is laid down by government and not other local authorities, but they do have a part to play in the process. To set up a town or parish council, a petition containing the signatures of at least 7.5% of the local population need to be submitted to the local authority. If the petition is valid, the local authority, West Lancashire Borough, will carry out a ‘community governance review’ to see if a local council should be created.
Town councils can develop an extensive range of discretionary powers providing and maintain a variety of important and visible local services including allotments, bridleways, burial grounds, bus shelters, car parks, commons and open spaces, community transport schemes, community safety and crime reduction measures, events and festivals, footpaths, leisure and sports facilities, litter bins, public toilets, planning, street cleaning and lighting, tourism activities, traffic calming measures, village greens and youth projects.
It’s also important to recognise that they are not in charge of the police, education, fire, or the national health services. Much of these roles are as consultees rather than service providers.
Cllr John Fillis, speaking on behalf of the Skelmersdale County Councillors, Cllr Julie Gibson and Cllr Terry Aldridge, said “It’s important that people decide if they wish to have a Skelmersdale Town Council once they have all the facts without the fiction.”
“There are many town and parish councils in Lancashire that do an excellent job. However concerns have been raised by local people regarding the impact some town and parish councils have and the subsequent cost.”
“Although the question of a Skelmersdale Town Council has been raised before, it’s important that this is debated again if people wish to consider it. But this debate must be open and honest so that people can make an informed choice. Lancashire Labour is here to listen and support the wishes of the people of Skelmersdale.”