Last chance to have your say on whether Lowestoft should have a town council
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Residents have just a few more days to give their views on whether a new town council or series of parish councils should be set up in Lowestoft.
Despite being a town of thousands of people, Lowestoft is unusual in that many areas such as Kirkley, Pakefield and Gunton do not have separate parish councils to represent residents.
That has led to claims of large parts of the town suffering a 'democratic deficit' compared to neighbouring areas like Carlton Colville, Kessingland and Southwold, which all have groups of people fighting for their residents' interests.
But some like Desmond Baldry - who already chairs what he calls a 'Kirkley Parish Council in waiting' - have warned that, if not done correctly, creating a new council might result in a 'large, cumbersome mechanism put together of a lot of people'.
However, he supports the idea of setting up a number of parish council for different parts of Lowestoft which then form a wider 'conglomeration' under a single town mayor.
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Labour councillor Len Jacklin has also queried how a new council might be funded, while former Lowestoft mayor Tod Sullivan has said: 'I am firmly of the opinion that the answer to the town's problems is unlikely to be found in having more councillors.
'How can it make sense for the poorest areas of Waveney to have increased council tax in order to fund yet another tier of councillors?'
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Waveney District Council (WDC) said at the start of the consultation last month that its 'strong preference' was for a town council or group of councils, with district council leader Colin Law saying the area has been 'starved of its right to enjoy a truly local dimension to local government'.
He added: 'Residents deserve to have their particular interests represented via town or parish councils, which are focused only on Lowestoft.'
However, WDC has been keen to know what people consider to be their area of community identity - for example, if people living near to Claremont Pier identify themselves as Kirkley or Lowestoft residents.
WDC assistant chief executive Arthur Charvonia has also reiterated that this is just the first stage of a wider consultation.
Sonia Barker, leader of the Labour opposition group on Waveney District Council, said: 'It is important local people have a view.
'The key message is that Lowestoft people must let their voice be heard on this issue.'
People have until Friday, May 13 to submit their views.
To have your say, visit www.waveney.gov.uk, where there are documents relating to the consultation.
People can also collect hard copy paper forms from the Marina Customer Services Centre or the district council offices at Riverside.
A draft proposal based on responses to the consultation will be put together and is due to be released in July.