'Time to get rid of town councils', says councillor
THE value of Bolton’s three town councils has been questioned by one of the borough’s politicians — who says the money could be better spent elsewhere.
Town councils can tax residents to support their operations and to carry out local projects, but their powers are limited.
Now Cllr Andy Morgan, the deputy leader of the Conservative party in Bolton and previously a Westhoughton town councillor, has questioned, in tough financial times, how much town councils cost to run.
But town councillors insist they are a vital part of local government.
Horwich residents went to the polls three times this year to elect new representatives at a cost of just under £9,000.
The first by-election was held in June following the death of former councillor Peter Baxendale.
Cllr Marion Downes’ ill health prompted another in September.
A third vote took place in November after Cllr Jeremy Lavin stood down because he was finding council work “onerous and unproductive”.
Labour won all three by-elections, but Cllr Morgan said: “Nothing has changed after the three votes and perhaps the people of Horwich would prefer that money to be used for other things such as dealing with potholes. It is important to point out that town councillors are consultees when it comes to things like planning.
“That gives hope to people who think that the town council has clout, but it doesn’t — I’m definitely on the fence when every penny matters.”
The total precept received by Horwich Town Council from Bolton Council for 2013 was £184,392 and the money is spent on Horwich Resource Centre — a community centre that accommodates voluntary and community groups, which cost £70,000 a year.
There are also town councils in Westhoughton and Blackrod.
Cllr Kevan Helsby, Labour leader on Horwich Town Council said: “It surprised me that Cllr Morgan has said that because the Government is supposed to be in favour of localism.
“The town councils are serving a purpose and are more likely to be in touch on local issues — we often have more members of the public expressing views at meetings than at Bolton Council.”
Horwich’s Liberal Democrat leader, Steve Rock, believes that Horwich Town Council should make the final decisions on planning.
He added: “We know the town and are more in touch with its people than councillors from other wards who do not know the area.
"The majority of the money raised through the precept goes back to the people of the town and very little is spent on running costs — if it comes to cost saving then it would be better to go with the Liberal Democrat proposal of cutting ward councillors from three to two.”
Comments are closed on this article.