A blog from Roughley, Sutton Coldfield
In Royal Sutton Coldfield, people voted overwhelmingly to set up their own town council, the largest of its kind in the country, with the ability to raise its own funding via a council tax precept and outside funds.
While critics can say that this town council will basically look after hanging baskets, litter picking and park benches, its supporters say that it will have considerable influence with its views on development, transport and other weightier issues.
The people of Sutton Coldfield have voted overwhelmingly to set up their own town council in a move towards greater independence from Birmingham. Almost 70 per cent of those who voted in the postal referendum chose to set up a directly elected town council. There was a strong turnout of 39.6 per cent of residents in the royal town which is higher than in many local elections. And now Birmingham City Council bosses have agreed they will vote to establish legally the new organisation in September and agree a timetable for elections and the handover of responsibilities.
TOWN COUNCIL FOR ROYAL SUTTON COLDFIELD
OFFICIAL BALLOT PAPERS THROUGH YOUR DOOR ON FRIDAY 26TH JUNE TO BE RETURNED BY THURSDAY 16TH JULY
WE NEED A DECISIVE “YES” TO REGAIN A CIVIC VOICE
To see what a Town Council can do, visit our ‘benchmark’ partner and advisor: www.shrewsburytowncouncil.gov.uk
Sutton Coldfield Town Council – Referendum Ballot
Sutton Coldfield says ‘YES’!
After years of lobbying and effort from Sutton Coldfield residents, Birmingham Council have at last agreed to hold a Ballot of all voters in Sutton Coldfield, on whether we want to restore a devolved Sutton Coldfield Town Council for our area. We, the independent Sutton Coldfield Referendum Group, are writing to let you know about this historic success, and to ask your support for the ‘yes’ campaign.
Every individual resident elector living in Sutton Coldfield will get a ballot paper in the post. They’ll be posted out to you on Thurs 25th June. You’ll have 3 weeks, till Thurs 16th July, to post it back.
At long last, YOU will have the democratic right to a vote. The Town Council may not be all that we might want, but it’s the best we can get within the law as it stands – and it’s a lot better than we’ve got now!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – why vote ‘yes’ to the Town Council
Q: “Would a Sutton Coldfield Town Council be legally independent of Birmingham City Council?”
A: YES. It would be a separate, independent civic authority, with its own boundary (the current Sutton Coldfield Parliamentary Constituency). Birmingham Council have admitted this. We would elect our own Town Councillors, who would be able to get more done than we can get done now. Our elected Sutton Town Councillors would make their own lawful decisions on the services they run covering Sutton Coldfield.
We would also have our own Sutton Town Mayor again to represent us at Sutton civic events. Birmingham Council will stay in charge of the main large scale services such as older people’s social care, child protection, special educational needs, major highways and waste disposal, and inputting to the bus services. We would lose none of those wider public services, but would get extra services funded through the Town Council.
Q. “Isn’t a Sutton Coldfield Town Council just basically the same as the existing Sutton District Committee of Birmingham City Council?”
A: NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT. A Town Council would be vastly more powerful than the existing Sutton District Committee, which is still a Committee of Birmingham Council, run by Birmingham City Councillors who are not independent of Birmingham. They have no money of their own. Our Town Council on the other hand, will be legally independent from Birmingham Council and will have its own additional budget.
The Town Council can also use the Localism Act 2012 to agree its own local Neighbourhood Planning policies with Birmingham Council. The existing Sutton District Committee of Birmingham Council does not have the authority to do that. It can’t protect us in the same way as our own Town Council could.
Town Councils also have a ‘general legal power of competence’ to develop additional services people want.
Q. “What sort of things could we achieve through a Town Council, which we can’t achieve now?
A: THERE ARE MANY. Here are just a few examples:
o Secure the future of our Town Hall by bridging the current £100,000 funding gap
o Expand litter clearance and introduce more litter bins , better street sweeping and parks maintenance where Birmingham Council is neglecting our area
o Start a community composting project that could collect garden waste cheaper than Birmingham CC
o Re-introduce a free parking pass scheme for Sutton Coldfield residents using Sutton Park
o Restore the Ward Community Chest Funding of £100,000 per Ward – to fund clubs, societies, community groups, local environmental projects, and support small local care charities etc
o Launch a major ‘Sutton in Bloom’ project across Sutton Coldfield, with better displays in all our local centres like Wylde Green, Walmley, Reddicap, Mere Green, Boldmere, New Oscott and our Town Centre
o Develop a major tree planting programme to green-up suburban streets and green space
o And that’s all affordable well within the total budget that’s available. There would still be extra left to spend.
Q: “How much would all this cost?”
A: NOT MUCH. All these extra services would be funded by a precept of less than £50 per household. That’s barely the cost of a loaf of bread a week. That will generate an annual budget of £1.8million extra to help fund new or improved services for the benefit of residents in Sutton Coldfield.
Q. “Could Sutton Coldfield Town Council take on other services from Birmingham Council, as well?”
A: YES The law allows for other services to be transferred through a Service Level Agreement, this is common in other Town Councils. All that is required, is a willingness on both sides to do this, and a legal check to make sure it’s good value to do it. Birmingham Council have admitted this in their own documents, and it’s done every day of the week in other Town Councils up and down the land.
Q: “Won’t we just end up paying twice for the same services?”
A: ABSOLUTELY NOT. Your main Council Tax goes to Birmingham for the services they run. The law stops them from double-counting and the government-approved Independent Auditor keeps an eagle eye on this.
Q: “Won’t we be paying an arm and a leg for another lot of politicians?”
A: NO. The Sutton Town Councillors work on a voluntary basis like other Town Councillors across the country. Based on other Town Councils, the admin and running costs of the Town Council would be just 12% of the total budget, leaving 88% to spend on extra quality services. Birmingham Council have admitted this. Town Councils are better value for money than over-sized bureaucracies, and have lower running costs.
WANT TO FIND OUT MORE?
For more, see our website http://www.suttoncoldfieldtowncouncil.com Want to help support the campaign? If so just mail us, the Sutton Town Council Referendum Group, on firstname.lastname@example.org
Support the YES campaign
Vote ‘yes’ to support a devolved Sutton Coldfield Town Council
Issued by the Sutton Town Council Referendum Group, all details at http://www.suttoncoldfieldtowncouncil.com
ON JUN 12 2014
The Rt Hon Greg Clarke MP, Minister of State, today confirmed in the House of Commons, in reply to the Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, that the people of Sutton Coldfield can make use of the title, the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield, and this will be recorded for posterity in Hansard.
The Minister’s ruling confirms that Sutton Coldfield has continued to be a Royal Town since 1528 and in the words of Henry VIII, it will be so “forever”.
King Henry VIII signed the Royal Charter for Sutton Coldfield in 1528 and decreed, “And that the same town and village shall forever hereafter be accounted, named, and called, The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield, in our County of Warwick.”
The people of Sutton Coldfield have campaigned for the official reinstatement of the Royal Town name for over a century.
Government files, available in the National Archives at Kew, reveal civil servants in the Home Office wrongly claimed Sutton Coldfield lost its ancient royal town title when it became a Borough Council under the Municipal Corporation Act of 1883.
There were subsequently two unsuccessful applications to reinstate the Royal Town name. The first application was in 1911 when the Sutton Coldfield Borough Council instructed its Town Clerk to apply to the Home Secretary, the Rt. Hon. Winston Churchill, (later Prime Minister), but the Town Clerk erroneously applied for Sutton Coldfield to be a royal borough. Sutton Coldfield had no historical claim to be a royal borough, it had been a unique Royal Town, and so Winston Churchill refused to make a favourable recommendation to the King.
The second failed application was made in 1973 when the Mayor of Sutton Coldfield applied to reinstate the Royal Town name, but this was at a time when the Sutton Coldfield Borough Council was due to be abolished and the town amalgamated with Birmingham City Council. As such, due to the timing, the legitimacy of the request was questioned, and the Secretary of State refused to make a favourable recommendation to the Queen.
The original Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield name was requested by John Harman, Bishop Vesey, a friend of King Henry VIII. Vesey was born at Moor Hall Farm in Sutton Coldfield. He became a visionary statesman who attended the Field of the Cloth of Gold summit in France, with Henry VIII, King of England, and Francois I, King of France.
When Vesey returned from the Field of the Cloth of Gold he found his hometown of Sutton Coldfield had gone into decline. He requested a Royal Charter from the King which gifted the Royal Town name and a vast royal forest was also given to the people of Sutton Coldfield. The 2400 acre Sutton Park survives much as it was when Henry VIII reputedly hunted in it.
Taken from http://www.transformingcities.co.uk
The Rt. Hon. Andrew Mitchell MP has met with Her Majesty’s Private Secretary at Buckingham Palace to discuss the reinstatement of the name, the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield.
The proposal is to reinstate the Royal Town name by appointing Charter Trustees who will oversee the proper usage of the royal pre-fix.
The Charter Trustees have now been named, and include the Rt. Hon. Andrew Mitchell MP, Lord Fowler of Sutton Coldfield, Lord Lieutenant Paul Sabapathy CBE, Elizabeth Allison – Chair of Sutton Coldfield Civic Society, Gary Phelps – Editor of the Sutton Coldfield Observer, and Hon Alderman David Roy OBE.
Speaking to the Sutton Coldfield Observer, Andrew Mitchell said, “My recent meetings with the College of Arms, the Cabinet Office, the Crown Office and the Palace as well as the Garter King of Arms have been immeasurably strengthened by the research undertaken by so many residents.”
One benefit of reinstating the historic Royal Town name could be attracting investment for the regeneration of Sutton Coldfield’s town centre.
John Harman, who became Bishop Vesey, has left a unique legacy. He was born at Moor Hall Farm in Sutton Coldfield, the son of a farmer, 550 years ago. He became a visionary developer, planner, Bishop, and Statesman, who attended the Field of the Cloth of Gold summit in France, with Henry VIII, King of England, and Francois I, King of France.
Henry VIII befriended Harman and bestowed great favour upon him and his hometown – Sutton Coldfield.
When Bishop Vesey returned home from the Field of the Cloth of Gold he found Sutton Coldfield had gone into serious economic and social decline.
Vesey knew what the potential strengths of his hometown were, for example it had a vast forest and chase full of game – but local people weren’t allowed to hunt in it or even to take fire wood. It had a favourable location in the middle of England – but it lacked a market place, pavements and bridges.
Vesey decided to rebuild Sutton Coldfield upon a set of principles that would address people’s needs and the results have endured for over half a millennium. He encapsulated his strategy in a Royal Charter and a series of measures equivalent to a masterplan.
Henry VIII signed the Royal Charter for Sutton Coldfield in 1528 in which he decreed, ‘And that the same town and village shall for ever hereafter be accounted, named, and called, The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield, in our County of Warwick.’
Sutton Coldfield had a unique form of town council in 1528 when Henry VIII, at the request of local benefactor Bishop Vesey, signed a Royal Charter to provide a Warden and Society to ensure people in the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield could determine their own future.
Following the Localism Act of 2011, a new town council may be created if 10% of the electorate in Sutton Coldfield vote for a governance review. Neighbouring historic towns such as Lichfield, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Royal Leamington Spa, Kenilworth, and Warwick, all have town councils that exist under larger local authorities, and they all appear to benefit from a strong sense of identity, civic pride, and growth in tourism related prosperity.
To see the town council camapaign Click Here
For a novel inspired by the Forest of Arden, Play Trailer: Arden