This post was originally published in November 2013, the original and associated comments can be read here.

 

A bit of background to Dartford Borough and the separate parish/town councils within the borough. The Borough of Dartford comprises the town of Dartford and eight surrounding parishes:

  • Stone (Parish Council has 12 councillors)

  • Bean (no information re Parish councillors on DBC or Bean websites)

  • Darenth (Parish Council has 12 councillors)

  • Longfield & New Barn (Parish Council has 12 councillors)

  • Southfleet (Parish Council has 6 councillors)

  • Sutton-at-Hone & Hawley (Parish Council has 9 councillors)

  • Swanscombe & Greenhithe (Town Council has 20 councillors)

  • Wilmington (Parish Council has 9 councillors)

In addition to the Council tax levied by Dartford Borough Council, residents in these parishes have to make a further contribution to cover the additional costs/services provided by their respective parish/town councils.

I have struggled to find accurate population statistics for these specific areas and am quoting figures from http://www.ukcrimestats.com/Police_Force/Kent_Police . As such these figures should be regarded as approximate and if anyone has more accurate figures, I would be pleased to know.

  • Stone – 6 242

  • Bean & Darenth – 5 736

  • Longfield, New Barn and Southfleet – 6 293

  • Sutton-at-Hone & Hawley – 4 191

  • Swanscombe – 7 057 Greenhithe 5 635

  • Wilmington 3 778 (and Joydens Wood 6 811)

Last week the News Shopper posed the question ‘when does a village become a town?’ and specifically asked whether Greenhithe was classed as a village. One reply pointed out that Swanscombe and Greenhithe was one town.

This led me to posing the question ‘Is there now a case for separate councils in Swanscombe and Greenhithe? Surely both are big enough to be independent’.

It would be interesting to learn the opinions of residents from both Swanscombe and Greenhithe as to whether they feel that the present situation is the best option for both areas or whether there should be an alternative arrangement.

Taking the argument a stage further by looking into the future.  There is already a substantial building programme being undertaken and planned in both areas, particularly in the Eastern Quarry at Swanscombe where, eventually, a further 6 000 homes are due to be built.  When this construction is completed, is their a case for Swanscombe (and/or Greenhithe) to become a separate town, away from Dartford?

Another suggestion has been made in that there are already too many layers of government throughout the Borough of Dartford.  We already have national, county, local and parish/town levels of government. Could it be that we should be doing away with separate parish/town councils and government locally being the sole responsibility of Dartford Borough Council?

The argument for possibly dispensing with these councils would be on the grounds of cutting out extra administration and saving residents money.  The counter argument could be that residents feel happier and more in touch with their parish/town councils and may be sometimes feel too remote from central council.

In conclusion, the questions I am suggesting are:

  • Should there be separate parish/town councils for Swanscombe and Greenhithe?

  • Should Swanscombe and/or Greenhithe become separate towns in the future?

  • Are parish/town councils still required?

I would be grateful to receive any comments and feedback either on this blog or by email to dartfordmatters@gmail.com.  Thank you for taking the time and effort to read this article.

 

About the author

Andy Clark is retired after a long career at Lloyds Register and subsequently the Civil Service. He has lived in Dartford for his entire life.

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