Local democracy in Reepham is under threat following a sharp fall in the number of town councillors in recent years.
Some residents have been quick to criticise the Town Council, but slow to come forward and volunteer for one of the seven vacant positions.
If Reepham people do not want decisions being taken by outsiders with little local knowledge, they should stop complaining and consider joining the Town Council, say officials.
The situation regarding the number of councillors is becoming critical, according to town clerk Jo Boxall.
She explained that the September meeting of Reepham Town Council will go ahead as planned on Wednesday 12 September, but will not initially be quorate as only three councillors are available.
However, Broadland District Council has agreed that the meeting can go ahead to hopefully allow the co-option of a new councillor who, upon signing the declaration of acceptance of office form, will join the Town Council and the meeting will continue quorate with the minimum requirement of four councillors present.
Mrs Boxall admitted that this is an exceptional circumstance, “but sadly one the Town Council are forced to take. There are supposed to be 12 councillors, but we currently have five”, which does not leave much room for unavoidable absences such as illness, holidays or other personal or business commitments.
Broadland has been asked to review the number of councillors required in Reepham in the hope that this can be reduced to nine, which would mean that only three councillors would be required for a town council meeting to be quorate.
“While this would solve the problem in the short term, it isn’t ideal and Reepham really needs a full complement of councillors to fully represent the views of the town,” Mrs Boxall continued.
“If Reepham does not have enough councillors, not only will decisions about its future be made by a small number of residents, there is the risk that councillors will be found from outside the town (for example, Broadland District Council members), with little knowledge or regard for the wishes of residents and potentially with other agendas.”
Reepham Town Council continues to encourage members of the public to become town councillors. There is a requirement to attend one meeting per month (second Wednesday, with the exception of August) and to respond to emails as appropriate.
Councillors can become as involved as they wish, but there is not the requirement to volunteer for tasks in and around the town as there used to be, as third-party contractors now carry out many of the tasks involved.
“The Town Council are a friendly bunch of approachable people, who warmly welcome new members, whatever their views,” said Mrs Boxall.
“The Town Council isn’t political: every decision made is open and transparent and councillors volunteer for the benefit of the community.
“I would be very happy to meet anyone interested in becoming a councillor and talk them through the ‘job role’.”
- For further information, contact Jo Boxall, Town Clerk on 01603 873355 or email