Bexhill on Sea is a small, delightful coastal town in East Sussex, notable for several reasons. One reason being that it has been home to such names as Spike Milligan, John Logie Baird, Fanny Craddock and Eddie Izzard.
However there is another, less positive, reason why Bexhill stands out. It is one of a few towns in Britain (and the only town in East Sussex) without a Town Council.
Back in 1974, Bexhill's Town Council was dismembered and replaced by Charter Trustees from Rother District Council. These Charter Trustees, however, do not serve the democratic purpose that a Town Council or other forms of area committee do.
Since then, there has been a growing movement in the seaside town to reinstate a Town Council, thus giving the residents of Bexhill a democratic say in how their town is run and where funds are spent.
This movement picked up steam in 2015 when over four thousand Bexhill residents called on Rother County Council to hold a 'Community Governance Review' or a public consultation with the people of Bexhill. A review to decide on how the town should be run.
It's no secret that the local Conservative Party have long resisted calls for a Bexhill Town Council and their reluctance to promote the review and a lack lustre launch led to the foundation of local campaign group "Democracy4Bexhill" in October 2016. As one of the founders of this cross party campaign group, Bexhill Labour Party are set to put pressure on Rother District Council to make sure everyone in the town has the opportunity to take part in the consultation. Making sure that the council holds a fair and open referendum of the preferred outcomes.
Its fair to say the Constituency Labour Party are baring the torch for this movement and thus for democracy. A great example of this progressive action is that, on Tuesday the 28th of February 2017, the Bexhill branch of the Labour Party handed in their detailed plan to Rother District Council, spearheading the movement with a clear and well laid out set of proposals.
The key proposals in the Bexhill and Battle Labour Party's response are:
• Reintroduction of a Town Council to restore civic pride and build on the strength of Bexhill's vibrant voluntary community.
• Locate the Town Council offices in an empty shop or office in the Town Centre as a cost effective solution to bringing governance closer to local people.
• Rotate council meetings around the town so that local communities in Little Common, Sidley and Pebsham can access local democracy.
• A town council should start by looking after services currently paid for by Bexhill's special expenses (Parks, Recreation Grounds, allotments) and draw up a Neighbourhood Plan to set high development standards for house builders.
Party members argue that Bexhill lost out when its council was abolished in 1974 and that the current arrangements are remote, commanding no loyalty from residents. This may seem like a small town problem but it is endemic of issues up and down the country where Conservative led areas are suffering from a lack of democratic power.
Once the British people realise this and realise that they are being duped by the current government, they will look for an alternative flag barer for this great nation. No matter your opinion of Labour's leadership or current selection of MPs, you cannot deny that in places like Bexhill, up and down the country, it is the local Labour Councillors and constituency party members that are rallying the charge for democracy and fairness.
You can read the Bexhill and Battle Constituency Labour Party's official press release here.
You can read the full response here.