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Ballot: does Three Rivers need another town council?
Campaigners are looking to create a town council for the unparished wards of Three Rivers.
The 4wards movement is pushing forward with plans to set up another local authority tier for those areas in the district without a parish council.
The wards targeted will be Rickmansworth Town, Moor Park, Eastbury and Batchworth Heath, Penn and Mill End and Maple Cross, Heronsgate and West Hyde.
The 4wards team presented their proposals to The Rickmansworth and District Residents’ Association meeting on Tuesday.
Money to fund the town council will be come from a precept, which is a sum of money collected through Council Tax.
As a result, if these unparished Three Rivers wards would like a town council, then taxpayers would have stump up the extra costs.
The additional cost for parish councils in Three Rivers in this financial year ranges from £5.34 to £18.59 per annum for Band D properties.
Watford Rural Parish Council costs are the lowest and Chorleywood Parish Council is the most expensive.
Miles Hosking, speaking for the 4wards group, said he predicts Band D properties will be looking at paying between 50p to £1.50 per month.
Mr Hosking added: "I think it is really important for everyone to balance it up for themselves whether the benefits are worth the additional money. There is a cost. It’s not huge but, as a campaign team we think the cost is worth it."
4wards campaigners said they feel it is about time that these areas have the same "voice" given to the other nine wards in the district which all have a parish or town council.
Mr Hosking said that creating another layer of local government will give residents more say and control over what goes on in the area.
He added: "Some of the frustration we have sometimes as residents ourselves is that we don't have enough of a voice and influence on what is going on around us."
Tim Perkins, clerk to Abbots Langley Parish Council, which has been established since 1895 and is geographically the largest parish council in Hertfordshire, spoke at the meeting.
He explained that Abbots Langley provides community support for events such as carnivals and Christmas concerts and is also in charge of the area’s open spaces.
With a budget this year of £800,000, Mr Perkins said the village’s council has sources of income from football pitches and venues for hire, which might not be available for the proposed new 4wards town council.
Concerns were raised at the meeting that the council will become merely another cog in the political machine, although campaigners said that is not their aim.
Paula Hiscocks, Conservative councillor for Rickmansworth Town, said she could see the benefits of the area having its own council, especially when it came to planning decisions and residents being able to share their concerns more easily.
However, Ann Shaw, leader of the Liberal Democrat-run council and representative for Chorleywood South and Maple Cross, said she is curious how four such diverse wards could be reconciled and come under one parish or town council.
Councillor Shaw added: "We’ll have to wait to see how people respond. It’s a strange area. How do you get everybody together and recognise the problems of Mill End and Maple Cross and marry them up with Moor Park and Eastbury?"
In order for campaigners to proceed, they will need ten per cent of residents in the four unparished wards to sign a petition in favour of the proposals to create another layer of local government.
As a result, 1,800 people will need to back the campaign.
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