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Home   Sheerness   News   Article

Halfway postal vote as cost controversy goes on over new parish councils for Sittingbourne and Sheppey

05 December 2013
by Hayley Robinson
There will be a postal ballot in Halfway to see if a new parish council is wanted

There will be a postal ballot in Halfway to see if a new parish council is wanted

Only one area of Swale still has a chance of being given a new parish council after a controversial consultation.

It was agreed at a meeting of Swale Borough Council that Halfway will remain in the Community Governance Review to see if a parish council should be established in the area.

A postal ballot, estimated to cost in the region of £2,272, is proposed to decide its status.

Due to the number of responses received and the opinions expressed, the local authority’s legal team suggested no further action be taken in the wards of Chalkwell, Homewood, Kemsley, the Meads, Milton Regis, Murston, Roman, Sheerness and Woodstock.

However, residents will also be asked for their views on increasing the number of parish councillors in Iwade and proposed alterations to the boundaries of three parish councils –Bobbing, Borden and Tunstall.

A sum of £27,000 was set aside for the project which involved a door-to-door leaflet campaign and advertising.

Despite the publicity, only 167 out of 25,748 households responded to a questionnaire with Halfway producing the most – 43 out of 1,828. Out of all the replies, 43% were in favour, while 57% were against the idea.

It led to the scheme being branded an “embarrassing flop” by the Labour Party.

The argument over the cost continued to rumble on when councillors met at Swale House, Sittingbourne, last Wednesday.

Cllr Ghlin Whelan (Lab) said: “At a time of considerable austerity and cuts in services, how can anyone advocate the case to spend in excess of £27,000 on merely the initial assessment of interest in establishing parish councils?

Cllr Mike Whiting said the quoted spend was erroneous

Cllr Mike Whiting said the quoted spend was "erroneous"

“Halfway gets singled out as a ward you feel should proceed to the next level of consultation on the basis that 34 residents, including a small, recently set up residents’ association, are in favour, and nine against.

“That is not a mandate to press on with wasting further taxpayers’ money, and wasting even more officer time.”

Cllr Mick Constable (Lab), ward member for Queenborough and Halfway, said: “Stage two is a waste of public money that could be used elsewhere.”

Cabinet member for localism, Cllr Mike Whiting (Con), said: “The figure of £27,000 is completely erroneous. It was £9,559.

“It’s still a lot of money but it’s under £10,000.

“I’m in favour of moving forward with Halfway because it gives us a chance to find out what the people want.”

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