Dewsbury is the latest community to look at the possibility of setting up a town council.
An online petition has already reached a sixth of its 3,000 signature target with the aim of restoring a council based in the town that is “dedicated to the regeneration and fortunes of Dewsbury .”
Headlined “Help save Dewsbury” the change.org petition, which has attracted almost 600 signatures, also announces: “It is our intention to create a Dewsbury Town Council to serve you, the people of Dewsbury and help make Dewsbury great again.”
It champions the ability of a town council to deliver local amenities and events to drive businesses in the town centre, adding: “We can increase security for the town centre and bring back a positivity to the town that only a local council can.”
The Dewsbury petition comes almost eight months after a debate hosted by Huddersfield Civic Society at the town hall that included presentations by Kirklees Green Group leader Andrew Cooper and an officer from the National Association of Local Councils (NALC).
And as town councils are re-established across the country more and more people are looking to them to focus on priorities that may be overlooked by bigger authorities.
“There is a resurgence,” said Clr Cooper, who represents Newsome. “It is happening out there.
“But are people aware of the difference between a town council and a metropolitan council such as Kirklees? What is it that people want? They are saying that their local views are not being met - that there are priorities that they have no funding for.
“Town councils can fill that gap.”
To look at establishing a town council requires the support of 7.5% of the electorate.
The debate on a town council in Huddersfield is currently in abeyance. Former Huddersfield Civic Society chairman Chris Marsden said to drive the project forward would involve calling a town hall meeting to give people sufficient information to understand what was being worked towards.
“It has not gone away,” he said. “The question would be how Huddersfield is defined because it’s not straightforward. It’s not what the old urban district council was 40-odd years ago. Boundaries have changed.”
He noted: “A town council would not take anything away from Kirklees Council at all. It would not supplant or usurp any of its authority, power or control over the borough.”
Clr Martyn Bolt is both a borough and town councillor for the Conservatives in Mirfield. And as vice-chairman of his local branch of the NALC he sees genuine value in what town councils can achieve.
“Parish and town councils are the closet tier of governance to the people,” he said. “They have got a wide swathe of powers that they can use. They would look to raise a precept that would allow them to undertake projects.
“There’s very little in statute that they can demand but with Kirklees Council looking to do asset transfers there may be community facilities that a town council may want to take over management of.”
The organisers of the Dewsbury petition write: “A local town council can deliver local amenities and events to drive businesses in the town centre. We can increase security for the town centre and bring back a positivity to the town that only a local council can.”