Sutton Town Council – the next step

Backing for local council from residents.

Further to the Community Governance Review, which included the Sutton Town Council consultative ballot during June and July, the Community Governance Review Group is recommending the creation of a Sutton Coldfield Parish Council as a first step towards the creation of a Town Council.

Their report will be discussed at full council on Tuesday 15 September. It recommends the creation of the Parish of Sutton Coldfield and the creation of a Parish Council for Sutton Coldfield. Birmingham City Council cannot legally confer the title of ‘Town Council’ but a Parish Council would have the power to become a Town Council.

The report also recommends the earliest implementation of the parish council in May 2016 given the strength of feeling indicated by the ballot, though recognises that there may be further changes ahead following the Boundary Commission review.

The review group asks full council to approve, subject to consultation, a precept (additional tax) of £50 for a Band D property for the 2016/17 financial year.

The consultative ballot ran from 25 June to 16 July. In answer to the question – Should a Town Council be established for the Parliamentary constituency of Sutton Coldfield within the City of Birmingham? – close to 70% of the vote was in favour of a Town Council. Turnout was nearly 40%.

Speaking after the result of the ballot was declared in July, Leader of Birmingham City Council and chair of the council’s cross party working group, Sir Albert Bore, said: “This is a clear cut result and the turnout in the ballot was fairly high. It will now be for the full council to make the final decision, taking into account this result and the other feedback from consultation. That decision could have an impact beyond Sutton Coldfield and for that reason the Community Governance Review has also looked at the wider issues for the city as a whole.

“There will be other changes through our Future Council programme and through the Boundary Commission review – which will decide on the size of the City Council from 2018 and new ward arrangements. Taking all these changes together, this is a watershed moment in the way that Birmingham is governed.”

Birmingham City Council launched a wide ranging review of local democracy – the community governance review – at full council on 16th September 2014 in response to a petition from 10,000 Sutton Coldfield residents calling for a Town Council for the area. Over 200 Sutton Coldfield residents responded to this consultation – which included conferences, round table discussions, feedback from residents, an online questionnaire and area briefings – and on 22nd May 2015 Birmingham City Council published its conclusions.

Although the consultation showed there was support for a town council the response was relatively small so councillors agreed to test opinion further through a postal consultative ballot.