Option One: No change to local governance

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Option One: No change to local governance

The first option is not to add anything else to the current arrangements.

There would be no additional costs to the taxpayer.

Bexhill-on-Sea comes under Rother District Council, which provides local services to all Rother residents such as community safety, pest control and food hygiene inspections, waste and recycling collection, leisure and cultural services, planning, economic development, and much more.

The role of Rother District Council will stay largely the same, regardless of the outcome of this review.

The Council Tax you pay contributes to Rother District Council's services and to services provided by East Sussex County Council, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Authority and the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner. Outside Bexhill, the rest of Rother has parish councils. Residents pay parish councils for their services in a charge on their Council Tax.

The Council Tax bill for a Bexhill band D property is £1,767.83 per household, each year.

For Bexhill, the Council Tax is divided between public bodies like this:

East Sussex County Council£1,314.36
Rother District Council   £169.32
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner   £153.91
East Sussex Fire Authority     £88.40
Bexhill Special Expenses*     £41.05
Bexhill Charter Trustees**       £0.79
Total Charge at Band D£1,767.83

* Bexhill Special Expenses

In Bexhill each resident pays the equivalent of £15 each year for Bexhill special expenses.   Special expenses is a term used for an additional charge made by the district council when it pays for specific services only delivered in Bexhill by Rother District Council.  The services include some of the costs for Bexhill parks, two Bexhill allotment sites, Christmas lighting, Bexhill Museum, bus shelters and Bexhill Town Forum.  A special expenses arrangement is not unique to Bexhill and it is not dependent on whether or not an area is parished.  Rye Council Tax payers pay special expenses for services only in Rye that are delivered by Rother District Council.


** Bexhill Charter Trustees

Each year, Council Tax payers pay 79 pence to fund the Bexhill Charter Trustees. The trustees make sure Bexhill's civic traditions continue and appoint a mayor and deputy mayor annually.

The Bexhill Charter Trustees comprise all 18 Rother district councillors who represent the wards in Bexhill.  Once elected to Rother District Council they automatically become a charter trustee. The trustees came into existence in April 1974.  In April 1974 the former Bexhill Borough Council was merged with the Rye Corporation and the Battle Rural District Council.  This formed the boundaries of the new Rother District Council, which took on district council services in that area.  A number of services from the former borough were transferred up to the new East Sussex County Council (e.g. highways, education).  Small, rural towns opted, at that time, to create new 'town councils' (to call their parish council a town council), but the decision was taken not to do this in Bexhill but to form a charter trustee body.

There are currently only 12 charter trustee bodies in England and Wales.

The role of the trustees is purely ceremonial.  They elect one of the Bexhill district councillors to be a mayor and another to be the deputy mayor of Bexhill-on-Sea, each May. They safeguard the traditions of the former Borough of Bexhill. They maintain the civic regalia and the 'Town Plate', which is a collection of gifts and artefacts that were donated to the town during its days as a borough.

The trustees meet formally on four occasions each year.  They receive reports from the current mayor and clerk and set an annual budget to cover the running cost of the Trustees. They make a formal precept for funds to Rother District Council, in the same way that parish and town councils do.  This year their precept, the amount of money they want from Council Tax, is 79 pence based on a band D property.  That amount would be a less for properties bands A to C and more for properties in bands E and higher.

The mayor of Bexhill represents the Bexhill Charter Trustees at numerous functions each year (sometimes as many as 250) both within, and outside of the town of Bexhill.  Whilst neither the mayor, nor the charter trustees themselves have any "executive powers", the mayor is seen as an extremely important person within the locality, and brings a great sense of civic pride to all events which he or she attends.

Charter trustees were established to preserve the historic identity of the town by carrying out ceremonial functions only, usually by the mayor. The charter trustees are not able to deliver services, like parish and town councils.

In the capacity of Trustee, the 18 Bexhill district councillors do not represent the interests of the local people to Rother District Council on issues such as planning and they do not have the power to deliver local services. They can raise money to cover the costs of their ceremonial functions (e.g. Remembrance Day).

If a parish or town council was created in Bexhill-on-Sea, which covered the whole of the charter trustee area (option two), then the charter trustees would be replaced by that parish or town council.  The new parish or town council would then carry out the same functions as the Bexhill Charter Trustees and recover those costs by setting a precept on the council tax.

Current local government covering Bexhill-on-Sea

In the area of Bexhill-on-Sea, two tiers of local government exist enabling the views of the public to be represented; East Sussex County Council and Rother District Council.  There is no third tier of a parish and town councils, unlike the rest of Rother.  This first option is not to create a third tier organisation in Bexhill.

The different tiers of local government have different roles and functions which are briefly outlined below:

East Sussex County Council

The County Council is the top or first tier of local government, covering the boundaries of East Sussex.  The largest part of your Council Tax goes to East Sussex County Council.  The government caps Council Tax rises at 2% plus 2% used only for social care (2017/18).  East Sussex County Council is the major supplier of a number of local services to the people of East Sussex. These include:

Children & Families' Services

Adoption and fostering; Child protection; Improving the prospects for vulnerable children; Improving behaviour in schools; Early years education and child care; Encouraging children to have a voice; Looking after children in care.

Learning & Schools Effectiveness

Improving pupil achievement; Support for school head teachers; Improving school attendance; Providing school places; Improving school buildings; Adult education; Improving e-communication in schools; Home to school transport.

Adult Social Care and Health

Assessing people's need for social care; Help for people to remain in their own homes; Home care; Respite care; Day care; Residential care; Living at home programme; Occupational therapy and home adaptations; Community safety; Health and Wellbeing in the community.

Communities, Economy and Transport

Road maintenance; Traffic safety; Waste disposal; Environment; Passenger transport; Statutory plans for a better environment for future generations; Economic development; Emergency planning; Trading standards; Consumer advice; E-government; Libraries, information and the arts; Community planning; Archives and records; Registration of births, marriages and deaths.

Rother District Council

Rother District Council is the second tier of local government, sitting within the boundaries of East Sussex and covering just under 200 square miles on the eastern end of the county.  It stretches from Camber and Rye in the east to Norman's Bay in the west and up to Ticehurst in the north.  The boundary surrounds but does not include St Leonards and Hastings.  The government caps Council Tax rises to 2% or £5 (2017/18), whichever is higher.  Rother District Council provides many services to the residents of Rother District, including:

  • refuse collection and recycling
  • environmental health
  • tourism and regeneration
  • leisure and amenities
  • planning permission and building control
  • housing needs services
  • collection of Council Tax
  • coastal protection
  • off street car parking
  • regeneration
  • licensing

Parish and Town Councils

Option One is for no change.  This means that Bexhill-on-Sea will not have any parish or town councils, the third tier of local government.  Parish and town councils operate at a level below East Sussex County and Rother District Councils.  In Bexhill-on-Sea there is currently no lower level and Option One is for no change, or not to add the third tier.  Any services that might be provided by a Bexhill Town Council or smaller parish councils within Bexhill-on-Sea are currently provided by Rother District Council to the residents of Bexhill-on-Sea.  There are 31 parish and town councils in Rother outside the urban area of Bexhill-on-Sea.  The local population vote in a local election, every four years, for their parish councillors.  They either vote for the whole parish council or, in some cases, their ward representatives on the parish council.  The parish and town councillors set a budget and raise a precept (charge) on the Council Tax for the services that they wish to provide.  Currently, there is no national government cap on rises to parish council precepts, so there is no upper limit.  (That might change in the future.)  Town councils also have a mayoralty and civic duties.  You can read more about parish and town councils on option two and option four. 

Examples of services that other parish and town councils provide include:

  • allotments
  • bus shelters
  • cemeteries
  • children's play grounds
  • grants for local projects and organisations
  • halls for social clubs and meetings
  • parish lighting
  • recreational and sports fields
  • traffic calming measures
  • war memorial maintenance

If you select option one you are selecting NOT to have a third tier of local government in Bexhill, no parish elections, no parish precept on the Council Tax and no provision of services by a parish or town council.

Local feedback

Rother Seniors Forum have told the Council that they do not see why there is 'the need to increase governance, and thereby costs, in any way during this time of cut backs in many other areas of government'.

 

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