Weymouth town council moves one step closer

Following two consultations, councillors are recommending that the council agrees to set up a Weymouth town council. If  this is agreed, it would be in place by April 2019.

A new town council for Weymouth could become a reality in 2019, if a new unitary authority is set up for rural Dorset.

Members of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s Management Committee have recommended that the council gives the go ahead to set up a new Weymouth town council. The full council will decide when it meets on 22 February.

This follows two rounds of consultation, which showed high support for maintaining a local government in the town.

If the borough council ceases to exist in 2019 to make way for new unitary council, Weymouth would be the only area without a parish or town council. Portland already has a town council.

High support

The first consultation gained about 1,000 responses. 77% of people agreed or strongly agreed with the idea of a single town council for Weymouth.

The second consultation received 532 responses, with 68% of people agreeing or strongly agreeing to the proposal for the town council set up. This included:

• the creation of a single parish council covering the Weymouth area
• The name of the proposed new parish council will be Weymouth Town Council
• The first election to the proposed new parish council to be in 2019 and then every fourth year thereafter
• The number of councillors to be elected to the proposed new parish council (council size) will be 29
• The proposed new parish will be divided into 12 wards for the purposes of electing councillors
• The ward boundaries will match the current borough wards for the Weymouth area.

Councillor numbers

From the comments received, some residents felt strongly that 29 councillors was too many for the town council.

Cllr Alison Reed, briefholder for corporate affairs and continuous improvement, said:

“We are edging towards a major milestone in the history and future of Weymouth. When a new unitary authority is created in place of the Borough Council we owe it to the community to make sure Weymouth maintains a strong voice. Residents have agreed that this is important and our thanks go out to everyone who took part in the consultations.

“Members understand the views of residents concerned about the number of Town Councillors. The strong consensus about the need to have a powerful local voice in the first days of the unitary council outweighs the delay it would take to conduct a Boundary Review. We have to take into account that any changes to the wards and numbers of councillors would require this. If the Borough Council agrees to a town council it will recommend that the town council requests a boundary review after it is set up.

“We are really looking forward to this fantastic opportunity to create a town council that will actively represent the town and continue to deliver on the ambitious programme for local services that the Borough has embarked on.”

Full council will decide on whether to set up Weymouth town council on 22 February, 7pm, at Commercial Road offices.