This coming Friday every resident business people will have the chance to vote on a proposal to establish a Town Council for Windsor. As you can imagine this is a very exciting project for me personally, having represented the town at the Royal Borough as both a councillor and as Mayor.
I wanted to lay out my reasons for supporting this Town Council project, as it will explain why I have agreed to act as its first chairman. But before I do that I want to explain something about the process we are embarking on.
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead effectively operates two systems of local government. In some areas, like Datchet and Old Windsor, there are parish councils that deliver a variety of local services and are funded through a small levy on Council Tax (around £35 per year).
Windsor and Maidenhead towns do not have these councils and so the services are provided directly by the Royal Borough. The levy is still collected in these areas but the money is handed over to officers in Maidenhead Town Hall who decide how to spend it in the absence of a parish council.
I think this situation is very unfair, and I know most RBWM councillors and officers agree with me on this.
The solution to this seems obvious to me, Windsor creates a Town Council that operates in a similar way to Datchet and Old Windsor Parish Councils. The proposal is that the new council will cover all the parts of Windsor that are currently “unparished”.
This area includes the town centre, Dedworth and Clewer Village. We will be publishing a detailed map of the areas covered in due course. It is also important to reiterate that the taxes needed to fund this council are already being collected by RBWM so there is no reason to believe bills will go up after approval.
Assuming we vote to create the Town Council we will immediately apply to the Royal Borough to recognise us and give us the same powers as the existing parishes.
The Royal Borough will lose some tax revenue (around £600k) but they would offset this by handing us responsibility for costs like park maintenance. This should mean that RBWM does not end up out of pocket.
The Town Council would have elections just like the other parishes and this would give far more people a voice as the wards would be much smaller than those at RBWM.
Cllr Simon Dudley, Leader of the RBWM, has made it very clear that he will support recognition of the Town Council if we can prove the proposal is popular in Windsor. This approach seems eminently reasonable to me, and Friday’s meeting is our first step towards proving it is popular.
In places like Datchet, the parish council can organise events, fund small local projects that help improve peoples lives and gives residents a real sense of civic pride. It would be great if Windsor could follow this example.
Right across the Royal Borough parish/town councils deliver real results for residents and we want to share that success.
I hope you will be able to attend on Friday and give us your views on this proposal. The meeting is at 7 pm at the Guildhall, all are welcome.