All voters get a say on parish council plan

PUBLISHED: 12:33 23 January 2008 | UPDATED: 22:14 26 October 2009

Against: Eddie Roach

Against: Eddie Roach

POTTERS?Bar people will have the chance to make their voice count in a referendum to say yes or no to a parish council. Hertsmere borough councillors decided to call for the poll at a council chamber meeting, attended by pressure groups both for and again

For: Rebecca Foy

POTTERS?Bar people will have the chance to make their voice count in a referendum to say yes or no to a parish council.

Hertsmere borough councillors decided to call for the poll at a council chamber meeting, attended by pressure groups both for and against emparishment in Potters Bar.

The issue was first sparked by a petition in favour of the plan, signed by 1,891 of the 16,261 electorate - enough to compel Communities and Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears or borough councillors to make a decision.

Most borough councillors in the town are behind the plans. But Eddie Roach is not.

Addressing the meeting, the Parkfield ward councillor said: "I must thank the leader for his assurance that there will be a referendum.

"I urge all members to support the amendment as it will enable 88.4 per cent of the local voting electorate who have not yet managed to have their voice heard the opportunity of being able to state their feeling.

"This is a basic democratic principle."

He also expressed concerns about the cost of a parish council, drawing attention to a £440,000 rise in the Letchworth town council precept in three years.

He was supported by councillor Lynne Hodgson from Bushey: "I'm not in favour of yet another talking shop.

"Parish councillors have very few powers."

However, Furzefield ward councillor Rebecca Foy responded: "The council tax rise is capped at five per cent.

"A parish council precept comes off that total the council can raise."

She added: "One person said in a meeting that all of us were in the M25, but I said we in Potters Bar were outside it and we are also the other side of the M1.

"We feel like the poor relations."

This feeling was strengthened by the knowledge that Borehamwood and Radlett - two other big towns in the borough - have their own parish councils, she added.

It need not cost a lot and would build on the good work started by the societies in the town as existing parish councils did, rather than be a "talking shop", she said.

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