Hexham Town Council is a Local Authority created by the Local Government Reorganisation Act of 1972. It is a Town Council with fourteen Councillors who serve for a term of four years and who elect one of themselves each year at the Annual Council meeting to act as the Mayor of Hexham. He or she also chairs Council meetings. A Deputy Mayor is also elected and takes the Chair if the Mayor is indisposed for any reason.
Hexham Town Councillors do not receive any allowances unless they go somewhere on Council authorised business when they may claim reimbursement of any lawful expenses. An allowance for just being a Councillor could be made but Hexham Town Councillors have always agreed they do not wish the Council to pay any allowance. This is different from the arrangements for County Councillors.
Before the Council was created Hexham already had a Council which was called Hexham Urban District Council. Other towns in the area also had their own Councils – Prudhoe Urban District Council, Bellingham Rural District Council, Haltwhistle Rural District Council and Hexham Rural District Council. These Councils were all abolished by the Local Government 1972 Act and all the nearby Rural and Urban Councils were joined together and became Tynedale District Council. Also created by the 1972 Act were new parish councils at Haltwhistle, Prudhoe, Bellingham and Hexham. They were initially created as Parish Councils but now call themselves Town Councils to show their difference from the other already existing Parish Councils. Differences though are only in the size of their budgets as the powers of Parish and Town Councils are all the same.
In Northumberland, we no longer have any district Councils. On 1 April 2009 under yet another Local Government Reorganisation Act all District Councils were abolished together with the then Northumberland County Council. The district councils and the county council all then amalgamated to become a new Unitary Authority which is called [again] Northumberland County Council. So in Northumberland County, we now have one Unitary Council and currently 152 Town and Parish Councils.
Being a Local Authority Hexham Town Council has adopted or agreed and abides by a number of recommended policies and protocols. One, in particular, is the Model Publication Scheme as required under the Freedom of Information Act and approved by the Information Commissioner.
Other policies and protocols the Council has can be accessed through the website section titled Council Policies.
1. Finance and General Purposes Committee – dealing with how the money is spent and how the Council operates;
2. Planning and Infrastructure Committee – dealing with planning applications, the cemetery, allotments, play areas and public seating;
3. The Town Plan Committee – maintaining an overview of progress in the implementation of the annual Town Plan and the contributions of the working groups;
4. Community Engagement Committee – responsible for the Council’s input into Remembrance Day ceremonies and liaising with the Armed Forces; liaising with Hexham in Bloom; liaison with Town Twinning; publishing with the Community Partnership the town newsletter – HexPress.
5. Neighbourhood Plan Committee – this will have oversight of the initial set-up phase for the Town’s Neighbourhood Plan, including negotiations with neighbouring Parish Councils.
Council Working Groups
Town Councillors work with representatives of other organisations based in the town in many productive and collaborative ways. Principal among these is the Hexham Community Partnership, whose role includes bringing people from different groups together to exchange views and co-operate in the interests of the town’s residents.
Currently, many Town Councillors are working with representatives of other groups to take forward the Hexham Vision 2020 and Town Plan. With an ambitious vision for the town, an understanding of the socio-economic data relating to the town and much discussion, an annual Town Plan will guide the town’s development in the coming years.
There are now three Town Plan Working Groups that report to the Town Plan 2020 Committee:
Economy, Heritage and Tourism (not as unusual a combination as you might think, as Arts and Heritage activities are central to the town’s ability to attract more visitors),
Health, Wellbeing and Leisure,
Built Environment and Transport.
Each is chaired by a Councillor and each draws together representatives of relevant town organisations. The groupings are small, to guarantee maximum efficiency. They are about discussion and action.
The Town Council office is located in the Hexham Cemetery main building. The Town Clerk, Jane Kevan, is based here and provides residents and Councillors with valuable advice related to Town Council business. The Council Office telephone number is 01434 609575 (please leave your name & number if no one answers and your call will be returned).
Residents who wish to seek the Council’s help or raise an issue with Council should either contact the Clerk or a ward Councillor.
How do I contact a Town Councillor? All the Councillors and the Clerk have their photo, address and phone number on the Town Council website. Click here.
Why should I contact a Town Councillor? Councillors are elected in order to assist the people of Hexham in whichever way they can. As part of their responsibilities each Councillor is attached to a specific Committee and if a Hexham resident has concerns or proposals then one of the Ward Councillors can raise that concern directly with the appropriate Committee. If after discussion the Committee considers the concerns or suggestions to be valid, then the Committee can make recommendations for change to the Council.