A picture of Fenton Town Hall and War Memorial.
In recent months I couldn’t help but notice the people of Fenton campaigning to create a Town Council. It is my belief a Town or Parish Council can make a positive difference to any community, giving local people a voice in a very big world. It would be fair to say the positives far outweigh the negatives. I couldn’t hold back any longer and I have this strong urge to support the people of Fenton in their bid to secure some community empowerment by creating a Town Council. It is not my intention to interfere with politics over the border in the city but I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t support plans to give communities more of a say.
Since 2010 I have served on Kidsgrove Town Council and Newcastle Borough Council, representing the Butt Lane ward in the Kidsgrove district. It wouldn’t be honest of me to say it’s easy to wear two hats (even 3 being the Mayor) but that’s another story!
Originally I just thought the Town Council would be a talking shop for old men and that actually it could do nothing positive for the Town. It dawned on me that our Town Council was playing a big role in Kidsgrove and doing a lot more than I had previously thought. I was also pleased to see a lot of female Councillors representing their community. The only thing that horrified me was that every Councillor was over the age of 50 and young people were underrepresented. There should be a balance of people and ages on a local organisation like this to give everyone a voice in the community.
Town and Parish Councils can be responsible for as little or as much as required. Currently central Government is cutting millions from local authority budgets meaning we are losing much needed services left, right and centre. In the City, there are still huge challenges ahead so how could a Town Council in Fenton help deflect some of the damaging cuts heading our way? Town and Parish Councils are stepping up to the game all over the Country and taking on more responsibilities to save vital services and protect the things that are important to local communities. Sometimes this works out better because local people can tailor services to suit the needs of their community. This extra tier of Government should not be seen as a thorn in the side of the City Council, but as an extra team to give the ratepayer a good service and stronger voice.
In Kidsgrove we are responsible for Allotments, event organising, the running of the Kidsgrove Victoria Hall/Town Council offices, Maintenance of Public clocks, notice boards, encouragement of tourism. We are regularly consulted by the Borough Council and County Council on all planning applications in the area, intentions to provide burial ground, proposals to carry out sewerage works, footpaths and rights of way surveys and much more. There is a lot more that could be added to this list and I am sure our list will grow as central government cuts continue to come down hard.
I think it’s imperative Stoke-on-Trent City Council give the people of Fenton a fair hearing on this issue and look at the positives local Town Councils can bring to the City. A Town Council should never be seen as a way of dividing people, but a way of cementing people together to deliver a better deal for all.
So I wish the people of Fenton well in their bid to create a Town Council to make positive change. If they are successful, I insist they raid the Lord Mayor’s Parlour in the Kings Hall and take back Fenton’s Civic regalia for a new Mayor of Fenton!