A WINDSOR resident questions the “very, very low” response rate of forming a town council consultation.

A cross-party governance review committee conducted a three-month survey in August asking representatives such as parish councils and businesses as well as residents their views and comments on a Windsor town council (WTC).

This was only a first-stage consultation where councillor David Cannon (Conservative: Datchet, Horton, and Wraysbury), the vice-chairman of the committee, said at a Windsor Town Forum on November 25 (Wednesday) they received 69 responses to the survey and “broadly” supported the concept of a town council.

Expressing his concerns, former Conservative councillor Ed Wilson said this was a “very, very low” number of responders considering Windsor’s population.

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He said: “It just seems like a very, very low number for anybody in the council to say that they are going to create an extra council in a town with 69 [responses].

“I don’t know what the percentage of the voters are – but that must be something like 0.1 per cent or something like that.”

Cllr Cannon said this first consultation wasn’t seeking to form a decision on a town council – but to understand interest by asking “exceedingly generic” questions to form draft proposals, which will be published in January 2021.

A second, more in-depth and wider survey will be conducted in February 2021 for three-months where they expect a “much higher level” of responses and representations.

Councillor Karen Davies (Liberal Democrat: Clewer East) said their legal officers have commented saying 69 responses for the first round of consultation is “sound”.

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The Chairman of West Windsor Residents' Association, Richard Endacott - who campaigned for a town council - also pointed out this consultation had the highest level of responses compared to others that were conducted by the council at the same time.

He added some of the responses were from community groups, therefore representing the whole community where each individual household does not need to send their own representation because the umbrella organisation is sending it on their behalf. 

In the second consultation, the areas it will be looking at includes those which will be within the WTC, boundaries and wards as well as their names, the consequential effects of a town council, and who will be impacted by this proposal.

Other areas it will explore include what physical and legal powers and assets should be transferred as well as looking at the cancellation of the precept.

Cllr Cannon said they will be looking at how many councillors will be elected in these individual wards where the responders from the first consultation suggested from 12 to 22 elected officials.

Elections could be scheduled in May 2023 if proposals pass – but Cllr Cannon hinted there is “an option” this could happen in 2022 instead as a one-off.

The final recommendations of a WTC will be brought to full council in July to be decided.