Kingston Council to improve community engagement by taking more decisions at Neighbourhood level
Kingston residents are being given a greater say over the future of their area as more council decisions are to be taken at a local level.
Kingston’s four neighbourhood committees have been handed a raft of new decision-making powers and access to locally-held funding streams in order to respond to local priorities.
Neighbourhood committees - made up of councillors representing the electoral wards within the four neighbourhood areas of Kingston Town; Surbiton; Maldens & Coombe; and South of the Borough - already take decisions relating to traffic management schemes, minor planning applications and street-level improvements. Their new powers enable them to take decisions on almost all matters that fall solely within their boundary provided that they are consistent with the council’s budget and policy framework.
Speaking about the changes, Councillor Jon Tolley, the council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Engagement said:
“The new Administration has set out to make Kingston a more democratic, transparent and listening council, where residents are directly involved in decision-making. Strengthening the role of our neighbourhood committees means those most likely to be effected have greater input to take part in discussion and informed decisions on local issues.
"These are steps in the right direction for better engagement across and in communities, and I urge people to take a look at what goes on at your neighbourhood committee. The new wider remit includes the development of a Local Community Plan, which will outline local priorities and drives change over coming years. Additionally, neighbourhood committees will be able to access funding raised through systems such as the Community Infrastructure Levy, directing funding for use on environmental schemes.
"For me, most significant is the greater emphasis on engagement and hearing local people's views. Neighbourhood committees will be formally consulted on the development of council-wide strategies and policies, and they will have greater say over major regeneration / development schemes proposed in each area.”
The new powers come into effect in March 2019. Agendas outlining the items for discussion are published online five working days before the meeting.
Next neighbourhood committee meetings:
- Maldens and Coombe: Wednesday 16 January, 7.30pm at Richard Challoner School (Manor Drive North, New Malden KT3 5PE). Chaired by Councillor Simon Edwards.
- Surbiton: Wednesday 16 January, 7.30pm at Dysart School (190 Ewell Road, Surbiton). Chaired by Councillor Sushila Abraham.
- Kingston Town: Tuesday 22 January, 7.30pm at the Guildhall. Chaired by Councillor Caroline Kerr
- South of the Borough: Tuesday 22 January, 7.30pm at Chessington Methodist Church (Church Lane/Moor Lane, Chessington KT9 2DJ). Chaired by Councillor Lorraine Dunston.
Notes to editors
More about neighbourhood committees
Each Neighbourhood Committee is comprised of the councillors representing the electoral wards within the Neighbourhood. The committees will be able to meet in different, less formal ways and hold engagement events with residents on local priorities, as well as continuing to act as formal decision making committees.
The role of the Neighbourhood Committees broadly comprises three distinct but complementary elements;
i) to exercise the formal powers and duties of the Council in respect of certain services and functions:
ii) to support and complement the work of the Strategic Committees and;
iii) to use their positions of leadership and influence to actively engage with and empower the respective local communities and build capacity and resilience within them.
More about the new constitutional arrangements
The new constitutional arrangements were approved by Full Council on 11 December. It was resolved that any decision which affects a single neighbourhood committee area may be taken by the relevant neighbourhood committee provided that:
they are within Council policy / there is no conflict with Council policy;
the impact of the decision is not wider than the relevant Neighbourhood
any financial implications of decisions taken are capable of being contained within the approved budget;
they do not involve matters of a highly controversial nature as identified by the Chief Executive in consultation with the Chair of the Neighbourhood Committee concerned.
A full list of powers and duties specifically reserved to neighbourhood committees are included in the Full Council agenda pack.