If a Town Council agrees a "Strategic Plan" for the Town, should this plan be subject to public consultation?

0 votes
After many years of requests, the Town Council has drafted a Strategic Plan.  When asked the Clerk has said that currently she has no view on whether there should be a process of public consultation on the Plan.
asked by (610 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
Logically, yes, legally, not necessarily.

A transparent council would conduct the public/stakeholder consultation about a year before the "has drafted a strategic plan" stage, so I fear your boat may have sailed.
answered by (3.3k points)
0 votes
The word "strategic" might simply mean "let's review all of the Town property, standing orders, and have a goal for our term of office". So, you might consider that you are a small town with not much property, no scope for development, and not much activity. Therefore you might not need public consultation.   More likely though, is that any plan by a Town Council concerning development or changes affecting the public and their space ought to involve public consultation.  This means discussion in public meetings, advertsing and leaflet drops, questionairre, etc.  If you don't do this then you risk overlooking an issue , and losing public support.

If the strategic plan amounts to a  Neighbouthood plan as defined under the Localism Act 2011, then are definite consultation stages to go through in order to achieve Neighbourhood plan status.
answered by (300 points)
We subsidise a local hall owned by a charitable trust that loses around £35000 per annum.  It needs major investment or we should stop supporting it.  The current strategy includes nothing about the hall but just platitudes about how wonderful the town's history is.
*A Parish Councils is a legal entity just as a living breathing person is a legal entity .  A Village Hall is usually a charitable trust and as a charity it is not a legal  entity and cannot hold the title to the land/property.  So  usually, the Parish Council holds the title to the land/property for the charity.  The people who do the day to day running of the hall are the management committee trustees.
*Usually, Parish Council's support  such halls using various legal powers because the halls are community assets and benefit the town/village in many ways.  However, I don't think that the Parish Council is legally obliged to pay for the hall in any way other than perhaps paying for the hire of the room it uses for meetings.
If it is losing money on the scale you mention , then there is an urgent need to seek advice from your association of local councils , and from ACRE (action with communities in rural England).  I believe that there are grants available for repairs which they may be able to point you to as well as advising about future finances.
I'm pretty sure the Council has engaged with external bodies.  The Council directly owns a separate Town Hall - that loses about £20000 per annum.  The hall owned by the charitable trust needs about £1 million of investment.  Instead the Council just patches up the Hall which, in my opinion, is a gross waste of money. However the Mayor appears to have told outside bodies in formal meetings (but unminuted) that the Hall should be knocked down and the land used as a car park.  But this is not part of an official agreed strategy of the Council.  This is why I've pushed for an agreed strategy for the Council.  Instead the Council has only talked about a strategy for the town - in terms of boosting business and tourism.  This largely duplicates what the district council has already proposed and to some limited extent funded.  But there's nothing about the strategy for key policy directions for the Council itself.  I'd like the voters to see the inadequate nature of the strategy by making it open to public scrutiny.
If the Hall is a charitable trust then it must have a Governing Document.  This is a vital , key document which will say what the Charity was set up to do and what the rules are.  It's like a contract which all trustees ought to be aware of.  Many Halls nowadays convert to CIO's (charitable incorporated Organisations ).
One of the big problems with Town / Parish issues is that things are done like that because they have always been done like that.  Some Councillors like it that way.  Often public apathy and disinterest rules the day  as well.    So, unless there are enough Councillors , working with the Hall's management committee , and who want to actually get something done , then it will be very difficult .

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