06:00PM, Thursday 04 March 2021
Cllr Wisdom Da Costa spoke strongly in favour of a Windsor Town Council
The Royal Borough took a decisive step towards the creation of a new Windsor Town Council at an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday.
The borough is carrying out a governance review into creating a town council to represent the unparished areas of Windsor after it was the subject of a high-profile campaign in the area.
Draft recommendations for the new council have been developed by a cross-party working group of council members, taking into account the responses to a first consultation.
The draft suggests that 10 wards be created within the new Windsor Town Council, represented by 21 councillors, and sets a suggested date for the first elections.
It also outlines the town council's responsibilities - allotments, at first, with others to be determined at a later date - and the minimum precept required to cover the cost of this, plus offices and staff.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the recommendations, to be put forward for a second consultation with the wider Windsor community.
Councillor Wisdom Da Costa (WWRA, Clewer & Dedworth West) hailed the new inclusivity offered by a town council, which can facilitate, organise and sponsor community events, as well as supporting clubs and organisations and providing ‘significant grants’ to community groups.
“For too long [residents] have been under-represented by the nuance of being in a minority of residents in RBWM, living in an unparished area,” he said.
“A Windsor Town Council will by its very nature be more representative than the borough to community needs and interests.”
He asked that the draft clarify further the range of possible precepts, benefits and services that a Windsor Town Council could offer.
One significant area of query for councillors was the precept – the contribution to a town or parish council included in residents’ council tax bills.
In unparished areas residents pay a precept for various services that would otherwise be provided by a parish council but are provided by the Royal Borough.
Cllr David Hilton (Con, Ascot & Sunninghill), a member of the cross-party working group, confirmed that Windsor residents would pay the same amount – £34 – after the formation of a Windsor Town Council, but that it was ‘unlikely’ that all services would be transferred.
Instead, a portfolio of services that cost the equivalent of £34 per resident will be agreed with the incoming town council.
Cllr David Cannon (Con, Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury), vice chair of the working group, added that the cost of any additional services would be added to the precept – decided in negotiations with the borough moving forward.
Cllr Jon Davey (WWRA, Clewer & Dedworth West) highlighted a concern about the precept potentially doubling in year two, asking if this was ‘fake news’ by those who were against the Windsor Town Council.
Cllr Cannon responded that this was ‘purely a matter for the people that get elected to the Windsor Town Council.’
“Unless they can find an alternative revenue stream, the costs of anything they wish to take on board will be through precept,” he said.
He stressed that a Windsor Town Council would not be taking any decision making away from the Royal Borough, as it would in effect be a parish council.
“Parish councils are not a replacement for the borough. The parish council is an additional level of Government, which through negotiation with the borough, may take on additional things.”
A consultation on the recommendations is now set to continue until June.
If the timetable continues on its current schedule, elections to Windsor Town Council will be due in May 2023.
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