What Do Councils Do?
By John Slough
We are governed by two local authority bodies and these have a big say in how many of our local services are financed and organised.
What does Central Bedfordshire Council do?
It contributes to the financing and management of our: Social Care services, Housing, Children’s Services (excluding academies and free schools), Waste Disposal, Libraries, Transport and Parking, Environment Issues and other community services. Central Bedfordshire raises money to contribute to the running of these services using Council Tax and Business Rates. As of the financial year 2019/20, the council will receive no direct governmental funding and so the council plans to raise Council Tax and Business Rates to account for this lack of funding. At the same time, CBC is proposing to make financial savings in how much they spend on Social Care services.
To ensure these services are managed in a desirable way, councillors sit on committees that scrutinise the key issues. Recommendations are often made by these committees which are passed on to the General Council Meetings, where a discussion and vote will be cast either in favour or against the recommendations made. Examples of committees include: Health & Wellbeing, Development Management, Licensing, Audit and Traffic Management.
Central Bedfordshire is governed by elected councillors from the North East, Mid and South West Bedfordshire constituencies. There are currently 52 Conservative Councillors, 4 Independents, 2 Labour and 1 Liberal Democrat.
CBC Council meetings convene at Chicksands in Shefford.
What does Dunstable Town Council do?
Dunstable Town Council has fewer powers than Central Beds. However, it is still responsible for a number of local services, amenities as well as the general promotion and wellbeing of the town. In particular, it can be held accountable for Dunstable Cemetery, the funding for the Town Rangers, how the Market Town Regeneration Fund is spent, Downside Community Centre (kept open thanks to local campaigners), Allotments, Public Events such as the Fireworks & Beer Festival, Grove Corner for young people, Dunstable Market (ceasing accountability as of February 2018), Grants to Voluntary Groups, and public buildings such as Creasy Park Football Centre and Priory House. The Town Council can set a ‘Precept’ which is an additional cost to your Council Tax bill; this goes towards helping run the aforementioned services.
To ensure these services are managed in the way that the elected councillors desire, councillors serve on committees where they are briefed on news and issues being faced. Committees will make recommendations on how these services should be run in future, which are then passed on to the Town Council, where an overall decision can be made by all present councillors. Committees include Community Services, Grounds and Environmental, Services and Finance. There are also Plans, Accounts and Personnel Sub-Committees too.
Dunstable Town Council is governed by elected councillors from the Dunstable Wards. There are currently 21 councillors of which 20 are Conservative. Town Council Meetings are held at Grove House on High Street North.