How you can get involved!
The campaign is hoping to get sufficient signatures on a petition to trigger a process called a 'Community Governance Review'. Tower Hamlets Council is obliged to complete such a review within twelve months of receiving a valid petition.
The petition only needs around 300 signatures to be valid, which is 7.5% of the number of local government electors living in the proposed local council area. Only people who live within the bounds of the map shown in the picture and are on the register of local electors may sign.
If you would like a petition form sent to you please use the online contact form.
Alternately you can sign the petition at various locations, including:
- Attlee Youth & Community Centre, Thrawl Street (ready to sign!)
- Spitalfields City Farm, Buxton Street (starting 25.02.17)
Our campaigners will also be visiting homes and streets over the next few weeks to answer your questions and ask you to sign up.
UPDATE: Our petition is now 95% complete
spitalfields town council CAMPAIGN
We are proud to support the campaign to establish a town council in Spitalfields. This campaign is backed by the Spitalfields Society, Spitalfields Community Group and the Spitalfields Trust and is separate from the forum's work to draft a Neighbourhood Plan for Spitalfields.
We believe a town council (an urban parish council, also known as a "local council") would be the most suitable body to represent the interests of the people of Spitalfields in the long-term and the only organisation able to ensure the Neighbourhood Plan, which this forum is currently drafting, was maintained and respected after the work of the forum had finished.
The Town Council Campaign believes the communities of Spitalfields should have more of a say over how Spitalfields is run and where their money is spent. They are convinced that only a town council would be able to deliver long-term and tangible benefits for the people of Spitalfields.
We feel it would be a tragic waste of opportunity were we to allow the momentum and potential created through the formation of our neighbourhood forum to be lost once a plan was in place.
Tangible benefits for local people:
- Town councils have very few obligations and a wide range of powers. A local council could ‘bid’ to run a service currently operated by the borough council. Whatever money the borough spent on street cleaning (for example) in Spitalfields could be given to the local council and it could then use that money to find its own contractor and direct that service itself according to its own needs and priorities
- Town councils are “statutory consultees” on all planning applications. They must be notified and their views must be taken into account when a decision is being made. The town council could ensure the planning rules/conditions laid out in our future Spitalfields Neighbourhood Plan were rigorously adhered to and be ready to warn Tower Hamlets when they were not
- The town council could act as its own developer. Projects and 'Development Orders' made in the Spitalfields Neighbourhood Plan could in future be funded by the council and made real without the need for further planning approval by Tower Hamlets
- The town council would respond to consultations on Licensing applications made in the town area on behalf of local people
- Town councils can promote an area and encourage visitors and trade
- Town councils can help promote a positive business environment for all of our corporate sectors in the local area by establishing a dedicated Chamber of Commerce
- The town council would be due 15% of all “Community Infrastructure Levy” (CIL) money paid by developers on projects within its borders paid directly into its own account. This rises to 25% when a neighbourhood plan was also in place. In Spitalfields, CIL is payable for residential developments @ £200 per sq. metre west of commercial street (zone 1) and £65 in zone 2 (east of commercial street). Business developments are charged at £90 per sq metre across our whole area. This could run into millions and could be only spent in Spitalfields by accessible and accountable people you elect. Currently all CIL money is absorbed by Tower Hamlets and disappears into a black hole!
- The town council would be democratic and accountable and local representatives would be far more responsive. We are proposing that the town has at least three local council wards within it. A town of our size would typically have about twelve unpaid town councilors. It is traditional that town and parish councillors are all independents with no formal political affiliation. Currently, in Tower Hamlets, an area of around 12,000 electors has just two councillors. We believe local government has become too remote. Under our plans the 3,700 electors of Spitalfields would have the services of about twelve councillors; four per ward
- Elections for a town council enable a very much broader group of people than a borough council to be nominated for election as a town councillor. To be able to stand as a candidate in a town council election you must be at least 18 years old, be a British, an eligible Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of any member state of the European Union, and meet at least one of the following four qualifications:
- You are, and will continue to be, registered as a local government elector for the town on the day of your nomination.
- You have occupied as an owner or tenant any land or other premises in the town during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination.
- Your main or only place of work during the 12 months prior to the day of your nomination and the day of the election has been in the town area.
- You have lived in the town area or within three miles of it during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of the election.
- Only people on the electoral roll and living in the town may vote.
- The town could raise a steady income based on a modest precept. Taking the average town/parish council precept of £50.19 per year on band D homes, our town could raise around £100,000 per year which could only be spent in our town area. This would work out at about £1 per week per household. We have worked this out by estimating there are around 2000 households paying council tax.
- Since 2012 town councils have a “general power of competence” enabling them to “do anything a normal citizen could do unless prohibited”. They also have other statutory powers, can impose bylaws, borrow money and could request the transfer of property assets currently owned by LBTH. This could us being handed over assets such as the Market Services Office on Lamb Street; this could be converted for use as a visitor centre, museum, archive or service office - whatever local people decided
- A town council could use its substantial income to pay for expertise as well as providing the services of their professional town clerk and other staff to do administrative/consultative work needed by local people
- A town council is also legally empowered to take over the running of various other local assets, such as disused church yards and war memorials. It is also able to spend money on a wide range of local initiatives to help improve the lives of our communities and make our town a better place to live and work.