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Council of the Week: Billingham Town Council
This week, we would like to celebrate the work of a relatively new council that has adopted a pro-active and holistic approach to developing and improving the local area since 2007.
Billingham Town Council is a relatively new council, formed in 2006, 39 years after Billingham District Council ceased to exist. It is the largest council in the Borough of Stockton on Tees, with an electorate of 35,765 (Census 2011) and a precept of £191,748.
Whilst the town council does not have the rate raising and spending power of the Urban District Council, it has given the town its own voice again. The council was formed after a petition signed by at least 16% of the Billingham electorate was achieved by May 2003. Later that year, a referendum run by Stockton Borough Council showed that the majority of those who voted, voted in favour of a Town Council. Elections took place in May 2007 to coincide with borough elections and Billingham Town Council was formed.
The council’s focus since 2007 has been to serve the people of Billingham, give them value for money, improve the town and unite the Billingham people so that it can once again become a prosperous and healthy community.
The council has been extremely pro-active in developing and improving the town and local environment. One example of such work is the Beautiful Billingham campaign, currently in full swing and which NALC is pleased to learn the Youth Council are heavily involved in. They are working on the Harrington’s Pond Project which aims to improve the run-down, derelict area around the pond and restore it to its former beauty.
As part of this project and in a bid to make the area more attractive to locals, the Youth Council will also install usable footpaths that will be wheelchair accessible, a footbridge over to the pond’s central island, litter and dog fouling bins and an information board of the pond’s history. The Youth Council are working with the Harrington family, the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust and local groups, schools and colleges, making this an exciting and inclusive local project that residents are invested in.
Beautifully Billingham follows the council’s earlier efforts to give the town a positive identity, with a ‘Keep Billingham Tidy’ campaign, the installation of ‘Welcome to Billingham’ signs and flower tubs and planters all around the town. The more recent installation of outdoor exercise equipment in John Whitehead Park, working in partnership with Stockton Borough Council, is another example of the council’s hard work to improve local life. As is the creation of a café and Community Hub in the park, using funds awarded by Grantscape.
The Hub is a hive of activity with workshops, youth activities, children’s parties and social events taking place all year round. Working with their local police, Billingham Town Council have reported that with the opening of the Community Hub, café and skate park in 2014, anti-social behaviour recorded incidents reduced from approximately 50 to two in the first month. This is a fantastic achievement.
NALC would like to congratulate Billingham Town Council on its continued hard work since 2007, which is clearly creating results that the council and its residents can be very proud of.