Group moves to call referendum about on-street parking in Uckfield

A public meeting is being called in Uckfield proposing that a referendum is held in town about on-street parking in the High Street.

The meeting is due to be held on Saturday, February 7, at 6pm at Uckfield Civic Centre.

Costs of a referendum would be funded by council taxpayers and could be in the region of £5,000 to £8,000.

The idea for the meeting grew on a closed Facebook group, Uckfield Roadworks – Your Views.

A notice of the meeting, published on the group’s Facebook page, says all electors of Uckfield Town are invited to the meeting.

“The agenda will be: A motion proposing that a referendum of the whole town be held on the following question: “Do you support the removal of the current 0n-street parking provision in Uckfield High Street?

“This meeting is called because of the perceived failure of the town/county council to listen to the concerns of local traders and citizens.”

A comment with the notice says everyone from the town including traders, local residents and the press are cordially invited to attend the meeting.

The town clerk and mayor have received a letter inviting them to attend and a copy of the notice is to be posted in the Civic Centre.

Uckfield Mayor Cllr Ian Smith said he wouldn’t comment about the meeting until he had met with colleagues on the council but added that it was legitimate for a meeting to be called as long as there were signatures from six electors of the parish.

There are seven names and addresses on the notice.

He said the meeting had nothing to do with the council and expenses would be borne by the organisers. They would also need a system to ensure that any votes cast came from people on the electoral role.

Costs of a referendum would have to be met by all the town’s council tax payers and, according to a document which went to the council’s General Purposes Committee on January 19, that could be in the region of £5,000 to £8,000.

The document says: “Parish polls are a high cost consultation method; a survey of 150 parishes found that polls cost in the region of £5,000-£8,000. It is therefore important that they are properly run, are relevant to the parish residents, and form a real way to ascertain views and aid decision making. A number of problems have been identified with the system.”

Those problems included the trigger, the number of electors needed for a poll to be taken was very low. In one case a poll was called by 11 residents, the minority of those present at the meeting and resulted in a poll turnout of 13%.

Another problem was voting arrangements. There were no provisions for proxy or postal votes and voting could only take place between the hours of 4pm-9pm. “These procedures are out of date and may result in reduced participation,” said the report to the town council’s general purposes committee.

The report also says the results of a poll are non-binding, meaning they do not have to be followed. The provide an indication of support for, or opposition to, specific parish matters which helps to guide parish council decision-making.

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