Who Speaks for Penrith

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Who Speaks for Penrith?

“Many a word will be said, many a word will be written but at the end of the day the final word will be with the people� Lee Quinn

A Town Council for Penrith - Yes or No? Introduction You’ll get one vote on the future of your town. You will be sent a ballot paper on 27th June. You will need to complete this and return it by 25th July. Sometimes we do not always have all the answers when it comes to making a decision; it is not always simple to determine what is right and what is wrong. In this small brochure, collated by the Penrith Town Council Group, which is the group that is behind the campaign for Penrith to have a town council, we have presented you with some questions,

which may help you to decide. I made a commitment to form a group and get the required number of signatures to start a community governance review, giving the people of Penrith the opportunity to decide if they think Penrith needs a town council. Eden District Council required 10% of the registered electorate, which in July 2013 was 1250. Over 1600 signatures were collected and critically, less than a dozen people decided not to sign of those asked. Lee Quinn

Who Speaks for Penrith? The County Council? The Eden District Council? Or your local Town Councillor who is from your community, who will represent your Community? Peter Ward, Penrith Partnership

Should the people that live in the town have a voice in how the town is run?

Yes or No?

Why does Penrith Need a Town Council?

Because Penrith doesn’t have its own individual voice in Eden or Cumbria. A town council could speak up for the town when new developments or other changes are proposed. It could look after its parks, allotments, tourist information centre, toilets, hanging baskets, Christmas lights and other services. It could set up and support local projects and sometimes get hold of finance for them, which would not be available to the District Council or the County Council. The Cumbria Association of Local Councils (CALC) supports the creation of a town council for Penrith. Why?

Why does CALC support a new Town Council for Penrith?

CALC represents most of the town and parish councils in Cumbria. Its policy, which is decided by its membership, is to support the parishing of all parts of the county. CALC believes local communities are best served by councils closest to the community. Local councils work in partnership with the larger authorities to bring services to the villages and streets where people live. Penrith has no individual voice in Eden, or Cumbria. A town council would speak up for the town. Cumbria Association of Local Councils

What is a Town Council or Community Council?

A Town or Community Council is a tier of local government. It has members or councillors elected by the people who live in its area. It has a clerk, who is an employee of the council and who looks after the administration of the council’s activities. It may have other staff, such as an assistant clerk, a finance clerk, or a horticultural worker.

A town council’s powers are established by several pieces of legislation. They range from the duty to facilitate meetings to discuss matters affecting the town, following a code of conduct, to the power to provide allotments, manage public gardens or collect fines for dog fouling. You can see more about the powers and duties of a town council on the CALC website under Powers and Duties of a Parish Council (available at www.calc.org.uk) Councils usually have to rely on specific

What are the Powers and the Duties of a Town Council? powers to enable them to do things. However, if a Penrith Town Council was in time able to meet the legal eligibility criteria, then it could exercise what is known as the general power of competence which gives councils much greater freedom to act for the benefit of their area and local residents. A key point is that a Town Council can act to improve the town and add value. It can develop a clear strategy for the town and deliver it over time in a way that reflects residents’ preferences.

A vote for the residents of Penrith to have Specific powers with respect to local powers and Duties - Yes or No?

Who Speaks for Penrith on Planning issues?

These are currently determined by Eden District Council. A Town Council would have to be consulted on all developments and could develop a Neighbourhood Plan, like Upper Eden, which would give it significant authority over how Penrith is developed. Peter Ward Penrith Partnership

Should people in Penrith have more influence on planning decisions in the town?

Communities in Upper Eden have taken more control of planning in their area by doing a Neighbourhood Plan. Should a Penrith Town Council do a Neighbourhood plan to help direct where development should take place?

Where Shall we Build Next, in what should be the Parish of Penrith?

A town council is a consultee on planning applications that affect the people who live in its area. It has no power to approve or reject planning applications, only to comment on them. District and county planners should take the views of a town council into account when making their decisions. When their decisions are against the recommendations of a town council they should explain why. However, under the Localism Act a town council is able to exercise a number of community rights, the most popular of which is the power to draw up a neighbourhood plan to help shape the development, as well as the look and feel, of an area. A town council would be able to draw up a neighbourhood plan for Penrith following the example of the Upper Eden Group of 17 parishes.

Can a Town Council affect planning applications?

A plan for the people on planning, by the people - Yes or No?

Who speaks for Penrith on Parking? Where the County Council are imposing charges against the wishes of the local community. Who speaks for Penrith as we become the supermarket capital of England?

Who speaks for Penrith on the state of the town’s public toilets which are still a disgrace?

Who speaks for Penrith when EDC decisions are often taken by the Cabinet and rubber stamped by your representatives?

Who speaks for Penrith on environmental issues where all of the recent improvements in the town like the planters and St Andrews have been taken forward by Community Groups?

What will it Cost? There is only one group of individuals that can address all of the above at ground level and that is a Town or Community Council. On the cost it is likely to be 30 – 40p per week, less than the cost of a stamp, but subject to your Council Tax Band. The aim here is for people of the town and its elected council members to not just generate an income to setup and support a town council but create greater efficiencies in the town services that need to be delivered. This would more than outweigh any cost to get a town council in place. We have to remember we are already paying for all of the above, it shouldn’t cost anymore to cut the grass on Wetheriggs but could it be better and save you money?

Who speaks for Penrith if a Unitary Authority is introduced as a means of making budget savings?

What is a Unitary Authority?

There has been much discussion about whether Cumbria would be better served by one or more unitary local authorities. A unitary authority would deliver in an area all the local government services at present provided by Cumbria County Council and Cumbria’s six district councils. These functions include housing, waste management, waste collection, council tax collection, education, libraries, social services, transport, planning, consumer protection, licensing, cemeteries and crematoria. In a unitary system these seven councils would all be abolished and replaced by one, two or three unitary authorities. It is vitally important that the people of Penrith, acting through a democratically elected town council, have a strong voice and are able to work with, and influence, any new unitary authority. David Claxton CALC

Who speaks for the youth of the town when the average councillor is retired?

“I was born and raised in Penrith. I have spent the majority of my life in this wonderful town but have always felt that there was something missing, something not quite right. I never have and still don’t feel that the people of Penrith have the voice they deserve. A town council would give the people of Penrith that voice and would allow them to express their views and more importantly, listen and act upon them. To be given the opportunity to represent the people of Penrith is something I am extremely passionate about. Listening to views and engaging with the community in a logical way, could lead to beneficial solutions. Together we can really drive Penrith forward and get that unity in our community. If you want to see a brighter future, a place where your children can grow up feeling proud and a place where you feel that you are listened to, vote yes on 25th July. You will not regret it!” Ben France age 25 Member of the Penrith Town Council Group

“When I look around at the progress being made in Penrith I am filled with optimism. When I look at what we have protected I am filled with pride. Penrith is a special place with special people who understand our town’s rich heritage and capacity for forging new and promising opportunities. I have lived in Penrith all of my life, gone to school here and want to raise a family here. I know other people feel the same. We have, however, been at a disadvantage compared to other comparable towns. Penrith is unparished, it does not have a level of government between the people and the district council. Where the surrounding villages and other towns in Cumbria have elected bodies to represent and champion their interests, Penrith does not, instead only having Eden District Council who must of course represent the whole region. I am of the firm belief that this needs to change. Penrith, through the dynamism of our residents and business leaders, has already created a number of bodies tasked with improving the town, bodies like Penrith Partnership and Penrith BID. Now it is time to take a step further and create something of which everyone can claim ownership, something that speaks to and speaks for all the people of the town. It is time to create a town council. I have been honoured with the great opportunity to play a part in promoting this vision. I want to begin articulating the idea that a town council can benefit Penrith and can take the town on to greater things. Through tapping into the wealth of energy and knowledge possessed by the people of this town, we can create something that can be hugely beneficial to the people and be so for generations to come. Let us have the debate.” Scott Jackson Age 26 Joint Leader of the Penrith Town Council Group A Youth Town Council would represent people under the age of 18, selected from the wards and estates that also have elected town councillors. Working together the youth town council would ensure a voice at the elected town council group

There is an alternative VOTE FOR A TOWN COUNCIL This July Some would claim that this would impose an extra layer of bureaucracy and cost but maybe this is worth it, if as a result we find our voice. There is also a very real opportunity to do things better a) A Town Council might well be able to find ways of cutting cost or at least adding additional value. Work in St Andrews using local craftsmen cost a fraction of the cost of the Council’s main contractors and arguably they did a better job. The current parking wardens, provided by Cumbria County Council, see it as their role to police the streets and issue parking tickets where as an advisory/ supporting role might be more appropriate.

Why a Town Council

So vote to take control back over your town. 1,500 or 20% of the voting population have already signed the petition. Why not join them and Vote for Change.

“The great question for Penrith, is what kind of a town do we want this to be? How do we balance what we love – our traditional shops, high streets and squares, our landscape – with growth and the pressures of housing and employment? How do we ensure our market town remains somewhere both wonderful and distinctive? I believe the real key to Penrith’s future is community: tapping local ideas, energy and imagination. And one of the most powerful ways of doing this would be through a local town council. A town council provides Penrith with a body that is able to harness the incredible energy of our community groups and businesses, and to prioritise those values that matter most to the town. Please do get behind this initiative, and show your support for a campaign that will give Penrith a bigger say in its own future.”

Peter Ward - Penrith Partnership

Rory Stewart MP Penrith & Borders

b) A Town Council can access funds not available to a District Council. As an example, the community raised over £50,000 to provide the planters and improve St Andrews and there are Heritage Lottery Funds available to Community Groups and Town Councils up to the value of £5m to improve Castle Park.


VOTE YES FOR A PENRITH TOWN COUNCIL THIS JULY 2014 For more details: admin@edenfm.co.uk Follow us on Twitter for regular updates

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