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Crunch time for Sheerness Town Council decision on Wednesday

By John Nurden

The decision whether to have a town council for Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey will be made this Wednesday (June 13) by Swale councillors.

The result looked a foregone conclusion after the consultation's first round when 1,406 residents out of 1,978 agreed they wanted a louder voice and a team to improve the town.

But on the final day of the second consultation, 900 pre-printed replies were handed in by an un-named councillor.

Sheerness town centre (2468477)
Sheerness town centre (2468477)

Of those, 896 were against. Four had the line "I am NOT in favour of a Town Council for Sheerness" crossed out.

It leaves the final tally at 1,407 for and 1,474 against.

It will be up to councillors to decide how much weight to attach to the last-minute replies.

The leaflet Labour councillors Angela Harrison and Mark Ellen circulated (2468229)
The leaflet Labour councillors Angela Harrison and Mark Ellen circulated (2468229)

The turnaround came after Sheerness Labour councillors Angela Harrison and Mark Ellen claimed in a leaflet that Queenborough residents paid £84 a year to their town council for a Band D property and warned that the tax could increase by 50% or 100%.

But Queenborough town clerk Lisa Gransden said: "From April, Queenborough reduced its cost to £65.19."

The council uses its money to keep the town clean, provide Christmas lights and organise events such as the recent Royal Charter celebrations with fighting knights.

Gutted: Sheerness town council campaigner Brian Spoor (2468227)
Gutted: Sheerness town council campaigner Brian Spoor (2468227)

Town Council campaigner Brian Spoor has always suggested a figure of nearer £50 a year for Sheerness residents.

He said: "I am gutted. I always knew the town's Labour councillors objected but I still don't know why.

"Their only complaint seems to be the cost. It is unlikely to be more than a £1 a week per house but all that money would be spent exclusively on improving Sheerness.

"If the plans are ditched I fear there will be no one to look after the town."

Swale council's leaflet about town councils (2468231)
Swale council's leaflet about town councils (2468231)

Fellow Town Team member Phil Crowder said: "Those of us who support the people of Sheerness having a voice through their own town council realise it would cost more. Nothing is free.

"But we have looked at the wider picture. A council made of people elected for their love of the town and not tied to any political party could do great things for Sheerness."

He added: "I appeal to Swale councillors to think long and hard about what will be best for the future of Sheerness residents."

It has been more than 50 years since Sheerness last had its own council.

Cllr Harrison did not return our phone call.

The debate, in the council chamber of Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne, is open to the public and starts at 7pm.

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