THE future of a Windsor Town Council (WTC) is looking bright as the Royal Borough approves plans to look into how it will operate.

The eagerly awaited governance review – the legal process to produce a formal report within a year on how an unparished area will operate – has finally been approved by Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) councillors unanimously with the ambition to create a WTC.

The leader of RBWM, councillor Andrew Johnson (Conservative: Hurley and Walthams), made a surprise announcement at the May full council meeting saying he will not wait for a petition to come forward – but will add the governance review for members to vote and debate on.

A steering group has been campaigning for a town council since September 2019 when a petition was set up by Richard Endacott, chairman of the West Windsor Residents Association (WWRA), for the creation of a WTC for residents views, needs, and demands be better represented on key issues.

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More than 2,000 residents signed the campaign demanding for a Windsor Town Council.

Only 7.5 per cent of signatures from the unparished area was needed for the petition for the council to undertake a review.

The petition was not submitted to council due to lockdown – but councillor Samantha Rayner (Conservative: Eton and Castle), lead member for Windsor, said ‘the council recognises there’s an appetite for a review to take place’.

Richard Endacott said: “This is great news. Great, great news for the town and great news for the campaign.”

Councillor Wisdom Da Costa (WWRA: Clewer and Dedworth West) said: “Windsor has a proud history of local representation since 1172 when a council was formed to discuss matters arising between the town and the crown, this representative body stood in various forms until the Local Government Act of 1972.

“This act replaced Cookham Rural District Council, Eton Urban District Council, Eton Rural District Council, Maidenhead Borough Council, New Windsor Borough Council and Windsor Rural District Council.

“Of the many towns within RBWM, now only central Maidenhead and the whole of Windsor are left without town or parish representation. We must address this inequality of democracy.”

So, what happens next?

A three-month consultation will be held from August to October 2020 to ask Windsor representatives and residents their views, comments, and proposals on a new town council to formalise a draft recommendation.

These draft plans will then be made into final recommendations to put to full council by launching another consultation from January-April 2021 and receiving additional representations.

A cross-party working group will be set up with three Conservatives, one Liberal Democrat, and one Independent – chaired by councillor Shamsul Shelim (Conservative: Eton and Castle) – to consider the outcomes of both consultations and put forward final recommendations to full council July 2021 to be voted, rejected, or amended.

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Councillor Johnson acknowledged this deadline might be too long for some people – but he hinted the timescale could be ‘compressed’ to bring a finalised report sooner.

Mr Endacott said the steering group is ‘quite keen’ for a WTC to be up and running and will be pushing for an interim shadow council to be place until a town council is fully implemented.

He said: “It’s not the end game, there’s plenty of work to be done.

“It’s up to the residents. The consultation process is aimed at giving residents a say on what they see is their future for town.

“What we really want is the people of Windsor is to step forward to give their views on how they see this particular organisation shaping itself.”

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If the review is approved, what then?

If the council is in favour of the final report for a WTC, a community reorganisation order will be made – a point of reference for the creation of local councils.

Following from that, the first wave of local elections will be triggered which may start in May 2023.

The governance review was approved at a full council meeting on July 28 (Tuesday).