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Ellesmere Port activists seek town council status

Move to provide local people with a stronger voice

Cheshire West and Chester Council's offices at Civic Way, Ellesmere Port

A campaign group has been set up to push for the creation of a new town council for Ellesmere Port.

It is argued this would provide improved services, local representation and better support for local voluntary and community organisations.

The move comes as residents across Ellesmere Port and Neston have the chance to put their views on how easy it is have their voice heard on what happens in their own neighbourhoods.

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Lizzie Jewkes, chairman of the ‘Voice for the Port’ campaign said: “This is about getting a local council run by local people just for Ellesmere Port.”

Lizzie Jewkes

She points out that parish and town councils are the tier of government closest to the people and work in partnership with the borough council.

Across Cheshire West and Chester there are already 161 parish and town councils which provide, maintain or contribute to local services including community centres, leisure facilities, youth projects, crime reduction measures, street lighting, street cleaning, community transport schemes, environmental issues and allotments.

Voice for the Port has been created with the aim of petitioning Cheshire West and Chester Council to create a new local council for Ellesmere Port as exists in Neston.

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Steering group member, the Rev Gordon McGuinness explained: “We knew if we could secure enough support Cheshire West and Chester would be required to undertake a community governance review and unless very good reasons exist Ellesmere Port would have their own local council formed.

“A new local council would provide the community with a focus for tackling the issues that affect us and provide us with a louder voice”.

The campaign group points out that since it was formed, the council has announced a review will be carried out locally.

It believes a town council for Ellesmere Port would improve community well-being, provide better services at a local level and provide local people with a stronger voice.

It could give the community a greater influence over issues which affect residents with local councils across the country already doing a great deal towards improving community wellbeing and providing better services at a local level.

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People can find out more about the campaign or offer support by finding Voice for the Port on Facebook or contacting them at voicefortheport@gmail.com.

The cost of any new council would be met by council tax payers in its area.

Following local government reorganisation in 2009, the Ellesmere Port Charter Trustees were set up to maintain the continuity of the town’s charter until such time as a town council was established.

The charter trustees’ duties are limited to ceremonial activities such as managing the mayor of Ellesmere Port and other civic and ceremonial functions relating to the town such as remembrance services, civic Sunday and attending local engagements.

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The cost this year is £1.90 for an average property in Ellesmere Port, bringing in £36,368.

Neston Town Council, the newest local council in Ellesmere Port and Neston, is billing an average property £37.43 this year, or 72p a week, for its services.

Finance chairman Ceri Lloyd said: “The council has worked hard to keep costs under control and to try to get best value for money.

“To keep the council tax demands at a stable level, we have had to adjust some of our plans.

“But we will still be doing our best to improve the local environment, the cultural life of the town and the markets at the same time being a powerful advocate for the town in representations to Cheshire West Council and other bodies.”

Separately residents across the former borough have the chance to put their views on how easy it is have their voice heard on what happens in their own neighbourhoods.

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The borough council is encouraging them to share their views on how their community is governed.

It is carrying out what is known as a community governance review to find out what arrangements are in place for residents to get involved.

The council explains: “Some communities in west Cheshire are represented by town or parish councils while others are represented by different forms of community governance arrangements like community meetings, neighbourhood management, tenant management organisations, resident and tenant associations and community associations.

“Areas not represented by town or parish councils are referred to as unparished areas.

“Since April 2011 the council has reviewed areas that were already represented by town and parish councils and as a result some changes to parish boundaries and parish council arrangements have been made.

“The council is now embarking on separate community governance reviews of the unparished areas of Ellesmere Port and Chester.”

In Ellesmere Port this includes Rossmore, Ellesmere Port Town, Whitby, Strawberry, Sutton, Grange, Netherpool, St Paul’s and Ledsham and Manor wards.

Cabinet member for finance and legal councillor David Armstrong

Cllr David Armstrong, the cabinet member for legal and finance, said: “It is vital that all residents are able to have a say in what happens in their neighbourhoods and we need to make sure that arrangements are in place for this to happen.

“I would urge residents who live in or have a connection to these areas to take part in the consultations so that we can find out how satisfied people are with arrangements in their area and what improvements could be made.”

To be involved in the consultation, or for more information, visit www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/communitygovernance .

The online questionnaire for Ellesmere Port is available at www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/CommunityGovernanceEllesmerePort .

A hard copy of the questionnaire can be obtained by sending an e mail to democraticserviceswest@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk.

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