VIDEO: Could Boston be in line for its own town council?

A new, independent town council could be in the pipeline for Boston town centre – but concerns have been raised over the cost of the move.

Members of the Boston Town Area Committee (BTAC), which currently acts as a parish council for the borough, discussed introducing a new authority – similar to parish councils – at its meeting last Wednesday.

News from the Boston Standard, Lincolnshire: bostonstandard.co.uk, on Twitter @standardboston

News from the Boston Standard, Lincolnshire: bostonstandard.co.uk, on Twitter @standardboston

Some members of the group said they thought an independent body would help to hold borough and county councillors to account and would enable councillors to do more at a grassroots level.

However, others said they thought it would be nothing more than an expensive way to introduce yet another layer of bureaucracy.

At the meeting, Coun Paul Gleeson, who used to be a town councillor in Oxfordshire, said: “The town council was where I found I was most effective, and where I could affect most change and achieve more than I ever could as a district councillor.

“It brings town democracy to a much more local level and it makes you more accountable and more proactive to the needs of your area.”

He concluded by adding that he thought Skirbeck ward – one of the oldest parishes in Boston – should have its own parish council instated if changes were being made, as the area has different needs to the town. The area had its own council many years ago, but it was removed.

However, Coun Derek Richmond told the committee he thought there was no point in making the change. He added: “The costs would be prohibitive,because we would be charging extra on the rates. Why have two layers of bureacracy when one will do at a time when we’re trying to save money.”

He added he thought that the powers of a town council would be similar to those of BTAC, which is part of the borough council, and questioned the need for an alternative authority. If a new council was set up, BTAC would be disbanded, and new elections would take place to select people solely for positions on the new board.

This idea has to the fore following a policy change which makes it easier to set up grassroots authorities. If the committee gives these proposals the green light, the matter will be put to public consultation, and if enough people sign a petition calling for it, a community governance review will be triggered, which means the local authority will review the suitability of the new authority.

No decisions were made about the new authority at the meeting, but Coun Mike Gilbert said discussions would be ongoing. He added: “You can’t have too much democracy, but it costs money and it comes down to whether the people of Boston are prepared to dig their hands in their pockets for extra democracy.”