Proposal for a Margate and Cliftonville Town Council to be discussed

Margate Photo Frank Leppard

A meeting will be held tomorrow (October 28) between Margate Charter Trustees and interested parties to discuss the possibility of a town council.

Councillors that sit as Trustees, on the Salmestone residents association and local groups will discuss the way forward to incorporate seven wards – Westbrook, Garlinge. Margate Central. Dane Valley. Salmestone. Cliftonville West and Cliftonville East – into a Margate and Cliftonville Town Council.

The move would mean removing the current system of charter trustees.

Thanet town councils

This was carried out in Ramsgate in 2009 after a successful campaign by resident Gerry O’Donnell.

A referendum was initially held in November 2006 with a total of 11,753 votes cast out of a total of 28,912 potential votes, with the result as follows: 59.5% not returned, 23.9% in favour and 16.7% against.

The order was eventually drafted in 2008 and the town council held its first meeting in 2009. The change of governance resulted in a precept rise for Ramsgate residents but also in greater powers for the new grassroots authority.

Broadstairs and St Peter’s Town Council is long established.

Westgate also established its own town council in 2015 following a community governance review, which was initiated by Margate Charter Trustees.

There was a two-stage public consultation process. At the first stage, only 75 questionnaires were returned out of a total electorate for Margate of 36,000. Of those 75,  33 residents expressed a preference for a Town Council for Margate. At the second stage, there were 337 responses of which  137 expressed support for a Town Council for Margate.

Thanet council’s Working Party decided to recommended that a Town Council not be set up for Margate but that a parish council be created for Westgate-on-Sea. That community governance review is estimated to have cost some £10,000 which was borne by  council taxpayers in Thanet – not just by those in Margate/Westgate areas.

A payment from the trustees to the new council of £30,000 also prompted a formal objection which was later backed by external auditors.

New proposal

However, the new proposal to install a Margate and Cliftonville Town Council is gaining traction and is understood to have the backing of charter trustees as well as several local community groups.

The bid is being led by John Finnegan, of the Salmestone residents association, and will need 7.5% of the total voters in the seven wards to sign the petition asking for a new community governance review.

According to Government figures this equates to 3,583 signatures, although the figures differs to that given by Thanet council of 2,308 signatures.

Mr Finnegan said: “Local issues would be tackled by elected councilors who live in Margate. The Town Council would be able to tap into grants for new projects to wholly revive the Margate community.

“This matter goes as far back as 1994, but ever since then they have failed to come to an agreement each time they tried to address it. That is because in the past it was not advertised enough, or not efficiently enough for Margate’s residents to get the chance to sign petitions or do whatever else could have been useful. This time, though, it’s different because we have social media to help us make this issue have a wider resonance.”

The meeting tomorrow is not public. Members of the public are invited to discuss the issue at the next Salmestone associaition meeting on November 6 at Salmestone Primary School from 7pm.

For further details about the campaign contact John Finnegan at finnegan1954@gmail.com