As work progresses to set up a new town council, we would like to share some key facts and answer some frequently asked questions about this important and historic change for Weymouth.
1. Why do we need a new town council?
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council will cease to exist in 2019 to make way for a new unitary council for the Dorset area. Following these changes Weymouth would be the only area in Dorset without a parish or town council. Parish and town councils provide a local voice to represent an area.
2. When will it launch?
Weymouth Town Council will officially launch on 1 April 2019.
3. What area will it cover?
The new town council will cover the existing wards of Littlemoor, Radipole, Upway and Broadwey, Westham East, Wey Valley, Weymouth East, Melcombe Regis, Preston, Westham North, Weymouth West and Wyke Regis.
4. How many councillors will there be?
Weymouth Town Council will have 29 Councillors. It’s recommended that the number of councillors should stay the same as the outgoing borough council, with an opportunity to review after the council is set up.
5. What assets and services will Weymouth Town Council be responsible for?
Talks and negotiations are currently underway to decide this.
The assets and services which up until now have been owned or managed by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council could transfer to the new town council, Portland Town Council or Dorset’s new unitary authority.
Initial proposals were considered by the Shadow Town Council on 18 October 2018. These will also be considered by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s Management Committee and the Shadow Dorset Executive Committee. However the final decision about which assets and services will transfer to the new town council will not be made until Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s Full Council meeting in January 2019.
6 What is the Shadow Town Council?
The Shadow Weymouth Town Council is made up of members of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council who are ward members for the Weymouth area. It is a committee of the borough council and has been set up to help guide the formation of the new town council. It has no decision making powers and will cease to exist when Weymouth Town Council comes into effect. Meetings of the Shadow Town Council are open to the public to attend.
Committee dates and agendas for the Shadow Town Council are available to view online.
7 Who will be the Town Clerk?
Jane Biscombe has been appointed as the new Town Clerk for Weymouth. Although the Town Council does not come into being until April 2019, Jane will take up the role of Town Clerk in a part time capacity in November 2018 and in a full time capacity in January 2019.
8 What does the Town Clerk do?
Weymouth’s Town Clerk will be responsible for setting up one of the largest town councils in England and Wales. A key requirement of the role is to provide strong leadership and build a wide range of positive working relationships with councillors, the council’s workforce and partner organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors. The Town Clerk will initially work with Weymouth’s Shadow Town Council to create the new council on 1 April 2019.
9. Will the introduction of the town council affect my Council Tax bill?
Town Councils are funded through a precept which forms part of a household’s overall Council Tax bill. Please be assured the charge residents pay for Weymouth and Portland Borough Council will be reduced before the charge for Weymouth Town Council is introduced. The precept for Weymouth Town Council is still being worked on and will be agreed and set in January 2019.
10. Will there be an election for the new council?
Yes. Elections will be held in 2019, 2024 and 2029 and then every four years. This would then align the town council elections with that of the new unitary council. This helps with reducing costs. It means that people will only have to go to the polls every four years for both councils.
11. What will happen to the existing council offices at Commercial Road?
It is proposed that the Commercial Road offices will transfer to the Town Council and become their base. We expect that Dorset Council will still wish to continue delivering some of its services from the building. Work towards this decision is ongoing and a final decision will be made in January.