Referendum on new Spalding town council would need public support

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A SURGE of public support would be needed to prompt a referendum on the creation of a Spalding Town Council.

The Lincolnshire Association of Local Councils (LALC) has had initial talks with South Holland District Council about creating a separate body to handle Spalding-specific matters in line with a national initiative.

LALC says there is funding available to “parish the un-parished” parts of the country, which includes Spalding – which has a town forum to discuss matters but has no executive powers.

Council leader Gary Porter told the Lincolnshire Free Press that he was “not opposed” to LALC asking people in Spalding if they wanted their own council but needed to be convinced that there was a need for a referendum before holding one.

He estimates that a ballot on the creation of a town council could cost £10,000 to £15,000 and says that the council itself could cost “hundreds of thousands of pounds” to set up and run.

He said: “If there is a groundswell of opinion then we should at least ensure the question is asked but I don’t propose to go to the cost of a ballot without that.”

The National Association of Local Councils has a “toolkit” for people wishing to create a council called ‘Power to the People’.

It states: “The National Association has long supported the need for a fundamental shift of power to local people and supports the establishment of local councils in all areas – urban and rural – so that people can benefit from first tier representation and opportunities for service delivery.”

NALC says parish and town councils are at the heart of Prime Minister David Cameron’s “Big Society” idea. However, Coun Porter said any extra responsibility passed down by the Localism Bill could be handled by Spalding Town Forum.

LALC chief executive Trisha Carter said that talks with South Holland had not gone beyond the initial chat with Coun Porter and re-iterated the need for an “expression of interest” before going to a referendum, with the support of the district council.