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Town Council

About the Council

Town Council
Members of the Town Council receiving the Quality Town Council award in November 2007. Reaccreditation achieved 25th October 2011.

This section describes the role and responsibilities of the town council.

Saxmundham Town Council was formed following the disbandment of Saxmundham Urban District Council in 1974. It is the first tier of several levels of local government but although it is often the most accessible channel for those who have queries or problems with their local services, its powers and authority are limited. However, it acts as a useful "sounding board" for local people and can pass on, to a higher authority (e.g. Suffolk Coastal District Council, Suffolk County Council or the local Member of Parliament) matters which are of concern to its electorate.

The Town Council is elected every 4 years and consists of 11 members representing about 2,750 voters. Following the Annual Meeting of the Council in May each year the members themselves elect, from amongst their number, a Chairman and Vice-Chairman to lead them during the forthcoming municipal year.

It is inevitable that, during the course of its 4-year term, a number of members may find it necessary, for a variety of reasons, to resign their seat on the Town Council. The vacancies can be filled either by an interested party requesting a further election be held or, if no election is requested, by co-option. If a vacancy falls within 6 months of the due date of a full election no interim election or co-option takes place and that seat remains vacant for that period.

Membership of the Town Council is non-sectarian and non-political: every member sits as an independent representative of his fellow residents. At the moment there are 7 male and 4 female members. The interests and experience of the current membership covers a very wide range, from service in the armed forces, careers in local government, personnel, accountancy, management, farming and local retailing and business. Inevitably the average age of the present Council tends to be quite high - these days, with the pressures of modern life and business, many of our members are of, or approaching, retirement age and there is a need, and desire, to recruit more women and some younger men. The Local Government Act and the Parish Councils (Model Code of Conduct) Order 2001 laid down a written Code of Conduct for Parish and Town Councils and the need for members to sign a Declaration of Interest Register. This register is available for inspection in the Town Council offices during office hours.

Members of the Town Council share the responsibilities and duties of the Council according, largely, to their personal expertise and, when elected, are asked to sit on a number of sub-Committees. In Saxmundham these consist of Committees considering Planning applications and Financial matters. Additionally the Council is to the sole Trustee of the Market Hall and a few members sit on the Market Hall Committee. These committees tend to sit once a month and the deliberations and decisions of each sub-Committee are brought forward for ratification at the main Town Council meeting, held in the Market Hall on the second Monday in each month (the Council does not normally sit in August). There are also a number of informal working parties set up from time to time from which the Council can call for assistance with particular projects e.g. the Skatepark working party.The Council also holds a "watching brief" through representation on a number of local, charitable and pressure groups such as ESTA (East Suffolk Traveller's Association), SALC (Suffolk Association of Local Councils) and the Safer Neighbourhood Team to name just a few. The Council publishes a four page insert in the local newsletter every month, titled "Saxmundham News" which is distributed to various outlets.

The Council is served by a Town Clerk whose role is described here. See also the Council FAQ.

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© Saxmundham Town Council, 2015.