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Consultation on local government in Torbay ends today

The area could get news parish and town councils

A three-month consultation on whether to set up new parish or town councils ends today. 

The authority voted narrowly in September to start the local governance review, proposed by the elected mayor Gordon Oliver as a way to escape financial problems caused by Government funding cutbacks.

Opponents have warned a new layer of councils could add £200 a year to average tax bills.

A new system could include town councils for Torquay and Paignton, which lost their local authorities when Torbay Borough Council was created in 1968. A town council was set up in Brixham in 2007 after a request from electors.

Voters could also ask for new local town or parish councils in the area they identify with.

They could match the locations of the 16 community partnerships already spread throughout Torbay, such as Hele and Lower Barton at Torquay, or Preston in Paignton.

It has been suggested that Torbay Council would be able to transfer to the new councils services which is it is struggling to provide, such as grass-cutting and street-cleaning.

The new local councils could raise their own funds from extra council tax to cover the costs.

But the authority’s Conservative group opposed the idea, arguing that it was a way of increasing council tax “by the back door” and could add up to £200 to the bill for an average Band D home if services were transferred.

Under the current system, Band D households in Brixham will pay an extra £51.29 on top of the council tax for the rest of Torbay to fund the work of Brixham Town Council – a rise of just under 10 per cent from £46.77 last year.

The three-month consultation will be followed by a set of recommendations, then a second period of consultation and a final decision in October, with elections to any new councils in May 2020.

Torbay has had to find £7.5m savings and extra income next year, alongside rising costs for children’s and adult social care, after losing £76m of government funding in seven years.

The authority faces an election in May, when the mayoral system will be replaced with a leader and cabinet format.

People can find out more about the review and have their say here


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