To be or not to be, that is the question.

It was often said of the last Tory led administration of Folkestone & Hythe District Council, they did things to us, rather than with us.

But will this new administration led by the Greens & Labour be any different?

During the election campaign our public face wrote a piece called 

Power to the people

This set out the mechanism of change for moving from a Cabinet system to a committee system. It also made clear change can happen one of two ways:

By a resolution of full Council at the Annual General Meeting or;

By a referendum; which can also be called for at the AGM.

Both Fokestone & Hythe Labour Party and the Shepway Green Party have pledged in their manifestos to move to a committee system of governance. Labour has gone as far as saying this would be in place by May 2024.

So here’s the rub given the legislation allows for a referendum:

Will they impose the change of governance system upon us, or will they give us an opportunity to have a say via a referendum, and consultation?

If perchance we offered one, then latter option would demonstrate that they are not doing things to us but rather with us, words which they have uttered.

Furthermore, there is no legal or statutory requirement for a consultation. So, no necessity for any public input. If they choose not to involve residents from every corner of the district, this will not be putting residents at the heart of what they do, nor will it be using the district’s greatest strength – the local people.

Back to the referendum, this  would have to be called at the full council’s annual general meeting on the 24 May 2023.

The wording used in a referendum question is set out in legislation. Councils have no discretion over what wording is used. And the wording is:

How would you like the District of Folkestone & Hythe to be run?

A) By a leader who is an elected councillor chosen by a vote of the other elected councillors of the party with an outright majority. This would be a change from how the council is run now.

B) By one or more committees made up of elected councillors. This would be a change from how the council is run now.

The powers to change governance options can be found in Chapter 4 of the Local Government Act 2000, as amended by the Localism Act 2011. 

The act of making the change via referendum does cost money. Such costs for this would be in the tens of thousands of range, if that. The major costs would more likely than not be in the areas of:

Legal costs, in making changes to the council’s constitution and wider governance framework;

Other costs, relating to:

• Convening member meetings to oversee the change – with resource implications for
members and officers;

• Redesigning financial systems and procedures to accommodate the change;

• Liaison with partners, to discuss and agree how business with outside bodies will be transacted

But regardless of cost, if the people are given a referendum by those who have the keys to the kingdom, it would demonstrably prove they wish to work with us, rather than do things to us. Then the next step would be to work with us and give us – residents – a meaningful consultation allowing public input into the change of governance.

If a referendum and a consultation is what you’d like to see happen, then you can write/email to any councillor/s on the district council, asking them to do so.  

The Shepway Vox Team

Courtesy of the Tooting Popular Front



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2 Comments on To be or not to be, that is the question.

  1. I am more than happy for the Councillors we elected to run business as they see fit . This is why we chose certain Councillors to be our trusted servants and not like Monk who was only in it for himself..
    Their first priority must be to get rid of the toxic culture within FHDC .
    Priest , Khroud and Blaskowicz must be immediately replaced by people that are open and transparent and can actually do the job they are employed to do on behalf of us the Council Tax payers .
    Oh and no golden handshakes when they leave .

  2. The myopic behaviour of Monk and Co. has created an inevitable kick back.
    Obviously there has been a distrust of councillor legitimacy per se.
    In an ideal world a general referendum would reflect opinion from all levels, likewise, in an ideal world we could trust councillors to act in the public interest, which did not happen on Monk’s watch.
    As a result, the public went en bloc for Green and Labour, a mess needs sorting out, which will take time.
    Referendums can be hiked, as council chamber votes can be hiked, genuine public voices of concern drowned, dismissed or ignored; we have witnessed such behaviour in numerous episodes.
    Referendum and public consultation move away from control by uninformed and misguided councillors, more reasons behind the political shift.

    Where ever there is power, there is always someone ready to manipulate, take advantage, profit.

    The way forward is improved communication and honest response at all levels with the public, adjusting legislation to minimalize corruption of honest input, is key to progressive government.

    The UK has excellent legal minds available, legislation can be adjusted accordingly, if, the political will operates on behalf of the public.

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