AN OFFICIAL poll on whether the people of Yarm want to leave Stockton Borough Council is to be held later this month.
‘Yarm for Yorkshire’ campaigners have successfully pushed for the poll which will take place in the town on Tuesday, May 27.
The result, although not legally binding, will cost about £4,000 - which will be funded by Yarm Town Council and organised by Stockton Borough Council.
There has been criticism over Stockton council’s introduction of pay and display parking in the town and the number of housing developments permitted in the area.
However, leading Stockton councillors have said that other councils operate within the same financial pressures and must obey the same planning regulations.
The question that will be asked is: “Do you, the electors of Yarm, wish Yarm to be removed from the control and administration of Stockton Borough Council and become the responsibility of North Yorkshire County Council and Hambleton District Council?”
Paul Smith, a former Tory Yarm town councillor and chairman of the Yarm for Yorkshire group, explained the referendum was triggered after an undisclosed number of people formally requested it at a parish meeting.
Mr Smith said many people in the town thought Stockton Borough Council didn’t understand the needs of market towns. He said he had received a positive response from Hambleton District Council.
Pointing out that council tax was cheaper in Hambleton, Mr Smith said: “If we’re going to be ignored, we could at least be ignored for cheaper.”
However, Coun Mark Chatburn, Ukip, who represents the town on Stockton Borough Council, stressed that the poll was not legally binding and ultimately the decision rests with the Government.
He said: “This is criminal waste of money the town council has not got.”
Leader of North Yorkshire County Council, John Weighell said: “I’m very much neutral but, of course, I’m very interested to know the wishes of the people of the Yarm.”
A spokeswoman for Hambleton District Council said: “We are unable to comment at the moment.”
A spokesman for Stockton council confirmed a poll would be held from 4pm to 9pm although no polling cards will be issued and no postal votes taken.
The population of Yarm, a relatively wealthy area, is under 9,000 and the town has about 4,000 households.
James Wharton, Conservative MP for Stockton South, declined to comment earlier today.
The council tax in the last financial year for Band A properties in the Stockton district was £1,044 but only £965 in Hambleton.