The End for Community Councils?
A lot of discussion has been had on the need to reduce the number of County Councils in Wales, with some consensus that there need to be fewer than the current 22 (although there is little consensus on the shape of such councils). One element of the White Paper Democracy, Devolution and Delivery - Local Government Reform: Power to the People on the reform of Local Councils that hase received little attention are the sections on the reform of town and community councils. This causes me a great deal of concern as a member of a community council. The suggestion is that a council is only "qualified" to continue as a community council if it has a budget of over £ 250,000 a year. The community council I am a member of collects around £ 40K a year and spends around £35K a year.
What the council does with this £25 per year per household precept is extremely important to the community; indeed it is a major factor in ensuring that our parish is not a dormer village - just a place for people who work and shop outside the area to sleep. We ensure that public footpaths remain accessible for locals and visitors, we organize community activities to keep the village tidy, a support group promoting the continuation of the Welsh language in the community, we support two drama groups, we provide funding to youth groups such as the Urdd and Scouts; we support a football team and a Sports Association, we support historical societies, help with the maintenance of public halls, organize community events for the elderly and loads of other things that create a close community life in a community that could be in danger of becoming nothing but a "bed room" without our input.
To raise more than a quarter million of funding per annum in order to be part of an "eligible" council, we have 3 choices:
1 Increase the precept from £25 per home to £600 per home per year
2. Merger with adjacent larger communities such as Llandudno, Colwyn Bay or Conwy and become nothing more than a pimple on the more important town's arse
3 Merger with other small councils in the area to create a "community" of over 600 square miles
All / any of these choices would result in a huge loss to our village!
Glan Conwy Community Council is so disgusted with the arrangements mentioned in the white paper that we have reacted angrily to the consultation and have organized a public meeting in order to encourage members of the community to express their opposition to the proposed changes too.
I'm surprised that I have not heard an angry response from members and supporters of other community councils in Wales to the preposterous intention of the National Assembly Government to more than decimate our community councils