AFTER years of campaigning and anticipation, the ruling Conservatives shot down hopes of forming a Windsor Town Council (WTC) despite thousands demanding one.

Campaigners fought hard to give democracy and localism back to the unparished areas in Windsor – but soon had their efforts dashed at a full council meeting on Tuesday, July 20.

Under the rejected plans, there would’ve been 21 town councillors representing 21,000 electorates in 10 Windsor wards.

Speaking at the meeting, the Liberal Democrats and Independents spoke in favour of establishing a WTC, believing it will be a “breathe of fresh air” to Windsor residents.

READ MORE: Councillors will decide Windsor Town Council's fate next week

Before it came to full council, councillors agreed last year to undertake a governance review via a cross-party working group to see how a WTC will operate and see if there is an appetite for one.

A consultation was undertaken, which garnered 679 responses, and draft recommendations were laid out on how it will operate.

Fast-forward to now, the Conservatives went against officer recommendations to establish one, believing the response rate to the consultation, which equates to 3.23 per cent of Windsor’s 21,000 population, “wasn’t enough evidence” to prove there is an appetite for a WTC.

They also believed this is not a great justification to increase costs to residents to pay for services would greatly impact Windsorians and think the borough council is already delivering their needs.

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Councillor David Cannon (Con: Datchet, Horton & Wraysbury), vice-chair of the working group, said: “I don’t think we’ve heard a cry from Windsor that they want a Windsor Town Council.

“We have heard a cry from several people who claim to speak for the Windsor residents, and I failed to see that they have done so that has been evidenced in any way.”

In the consultation, 542 people spoke in favour of establishing a WTC. More than 1,400 residents also signed a paper petition and an e-petition garnered over 600 signatures.

Clewer East councillor Amy Tisi (Lib Dem) dismissed claims there is no appetite for a WTC as “insulting”, arguing Weymouth established a town council with a lower response rate and there is no threshold as a “good number” in consultation responses.

Independent councillor Neil Knowles (Old Windsor) pointed out hypocrisy as the administration hailed previous borough-wide consultations, such as the budget and libraries, as a success yet they had a lower response rate.

Slough Observer: Cllr Neil KnowlesCllr Neil Knowles

He said: “Throughout this process, it became apparent to us that all Windsor residents felt discounted from the other parts of the borough.

“The feeling that they have no control and are being used as a cash cow for Maidenhead with little power to decide what happens in Windsor.

“This feeling will not go away and needs addressing.

“It’s not a declaration of independence from Maidenhead – but if we support these reports recommendations, it will go a long way to satisfy the needs to engage and empower Windsor residents.

“If you represent a parish ward and you vote against this, shame on you.”

The Tories, some of whom are current or former parish councillors, defeated the proposal 20 to 15 votes.