A bid to create a new town council for Margate – replacing the current Charter Trustees system – will need 3,107 signatures of support from residents in relevant wards.
If that number of supporters can be found it will trigger the process which starts with a community governance review – involving two public consultations – before the results go before a full council meeting.
The petition needs to be presented to Thanet council by November with the consultation process then taking a year.
If successful the town council could be approved early in 2023 and come into operation from April 2023, Existing charter trustees would likely be the interim town councillors until elections in May 2023
A meeting held at the Dreamland Ballroom to discuss the proposals this week attracted around 50 participants and details of the process, what duties a town council could take on and how much it would cost in council tax precepts were shared.
In May the Mayor and Charter Trustees of Margate agreed that a plan for a Town Council for Margate should be actively pursued.
They said the formation of an independent Town Council for Margate would mean better direct access to government funds and grants and could benefit the community by being channelled into local projects and initiatives with a more tangible impact.
If successful, the newly-formed Town Council could provide more than 30 services, including those around litter, parking, crime prevention and parks and green spaces.
Details on a new Margate Town Council website say: “A Town Council would have the power to borrow monies to invest in, for example, a community centre. The Charter Trustees are not permitted to borrow money or own property.”
Projects that have been suggested include restoring the Dane Park fountain, more CCTV installation, increased street cleaning and upgraded children’s play areas.
However, creating a town council would mean a rise in the amount residents pay in council tax precept.
The town council information website says: “In the first year, the budget will be set probably in consultation between the existing Charter Trustees (because of the electoral cycle) and Thanet council.
“The Margate area has the highest population rate in Thanet and the highest number of Band D properties (this determines the level of council tax). This means that costs are spread over more households thereby keeping costs per household lower.
“For example, the (Charter Trustees) council tax budget for 2020-21 was £153.5k with a precept figure of £11.61.
“For 2021-22, the budget (using part of the reserves) is £119k giving rise to a precept of £9.18.
“If the first year’s budget for the new Town Council were to be £300K (if would need to be £303,400) the precept would be £23.40 (based on the Band D tax rate for 2021-22 – the rate fluctuates each year).”
The charter trustees believe the higher rate would be compensated for through the additional benefits to the community, such as greater involvement to influence decisions and policies.
Residents eligible to sign the petition are those living in wards Cliftonville East and West, Dane Valley, Garlinge , Margate Central, Salmestone and Westbrook.
Charter Trustees will be holding further consultation events.
Public consultations in 2014 resulted in agreement to set up a Westgate Town Council but to retain charter trustees in Margate.