When Local Government was reformed in 1974, Grantham Town Council was abolished leaving only a committee of Charter Trustees. The power of the Trustees doesn’t extend far beyond electing a Mayor and paying for his/her petrol. This leaves a democratic deficit in Grantham because other towns and villages have a Town or Parish Council to make representations about planning applications etc while there is no equivalent voice for the people of Grantham.
At the May meeting of SKDC Full Council I proposed that there should be a Community Governance Review for Grantham to decide whether the Charter Trustees should be replaced by a proper Town Council. Here is the text of the speech I prepared and used in proposing the motion:
“Grantham needs a Town Council.
It is one of only a very few towns in Lincolnshire that does not have a Town or Parish Council. This leaves a democratic gap where there is no unique town body to formally speak for Grantham residents.
As Cllr Ray Wootten said back in 2017, “it is vital that a town Council for Grantham is created to ensure that local people have control over their own destiny.”
I first submitted a motion on this subject ahead of the November meeting. However, a similar motion was then submitted by another Member so I gave way at that time.
Unfortunately, on the day of the meeting, the motion was withdrawn. Six months later it hasn’t come back and this debate is long overdue.
The creation of a Grantham Town Council will provide an alternative and more appropriate forum for Grantham Councillors to consider Grantham events.
In the Deepings, we have Town and Parish Councils to speak with authority and with a coherent voice in response to the various initiatives proposed by the District and County Council officers in their far away offices.
When the Development Management Committee considers planning applications concerning the smaller towns and the villages, we usually hear thoughtful representations from town and parish councils. When considering planning applications for Grantham, we don’t get any such information.
For these reasons, and others, I think it is time to ask Grantham residents how they feel about the role of the Charter Trustees and whether or not they would like to see a more effective Council in their town.
I suspect some Councillors might tease me for proposing a Grantham Town Council when I don’t live in Grantham. – Some people will always find it easier to play the man rather than play the ball. – I say to those people, if you don’t like the idea of someone thirty miles away telling you what’s best for your community, then ‘Welcome to my world!’
Grantham, you have outsiders telling you what to do all the time. Only two of the SKDC Cabinet members live in Grantham.
In the Deepings we’ve had people from across Lincolnshire selling our youth centre, trying to pull the rug from under our library and last week organising a ‘community listening event’ in order to tell us why we should build houses on the popular Mill Field recreation area. But in the Deepings we’re organised.
Grantham, if you listen, you could learn a lot from the Deepings.
It’s time to express your independence. It’s time to Take Back Control!
Getting yourself a Town Council is the first step to freedom!”
More details of the outcome of the debate are listed in an earlier blog post.