What is the Role of Town Council & is Town Council Under HDB? Here Are 10 Facts About Town Councils in Singapore

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You’d have known where your Town Council office is located, but do you know what is the role of Town Councils? And is Town Council under HDB?

Also, whenever you see someone hanging a chair to dry, or a diaper on the floor, do you have the urge to pick up your phone to complain to the Town Council?

What if you saw a snake eating a cat, who do you call then? The Town Council too?

Either way, the exact job scope of the Town Council is very ambiguous to the majority of the population so here are 10 facts about Town Council you probably didn’t know about.

If you prefer to, you can watch this video to the end to understand more about Town Councils instead:

What is the Role of Town Council?

Lest you didn’t already know, there’s a law called the Town Council Act.

Simply put, a Town Council must exist in any estate, which is to, to quote the act, “control, manage, maintain and improve the common property of housing estates of the Housing and Development Board, their constitution, functions and for matters incidental thereto.”

The law makes sure that there is always a team to manage an HDB estate, from the grass to the playground to the shelter.

But how about private properties?

Is Town Council Under HDB?

If you live in a condominium, your property is managed by another management in your condo, so you pay the management a monthly fee instead.

In short, if you see a crack in your condo premises, don’t call the Town Council.

But if you see a crack outside your condo, you can call the Town Council.

As for landed property, you’re in charge of your property so you won’t need to pay anything, except for a refuse removal fee. The refuse removal fee is for the cleaners to remove rubbish from the big bin outside your landed property.

But still, no: Town Councils aren’t under HDB, but they’re under the same ministry, the Ministry of National Development.

The Town Council manages the common property

Simply put, the Town Council control, manage, maintain and improve the common property of the residential and commercial properties within its town for the benefit of the residents.  They also keep them in a state of good and serviceable condition.


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Examples of common property include facilities in the housing estates built for common use by residents, such as linkways, gardens, lifts, corridors and void decks.

In simpler terms, the Town Council ensure that you won’t face problems like the grass growing taller than you, trapping in the lift because it was not maintained for a prolonged period of time to tracking down people that keep littering because they don’t know where is the dustbin in their house.

Your elected Members of Parliaments does not “run” the Town Councils

If you think your elected Members of Parliaments will be “running” the Town Councils, you are not 100% right.

You don’t see Elected MP inside a Town Council office handling complaints about a fallen tree, right?

Elected MPs form the Town Council, so they have two choices: Either to outsource the entire job to another company, but still calling it a Town Council, or to employ their people to form the Town Council

Tammy started to see her dead boyfriend after an accident. But did she make him up? Or is there something else? Watch her story that's based on true events here:

Once it’s formed, the MPs aren’t exactly the “CEO” of the Town Council but think of them as the people responsible for the Town Council.

These people engage people to be the “CEO” of the Town Council, who is the General Manager.

Sometimes, if they want to, they can also take any role within the Town Council since they form the Town Council.


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Their level of hands-on activeness is dependent on the MPs.

For the cleaners or other staff, they can also be outsourced staff by the Town Council, or the Town Council engage their cleaners.

The Ministry of National Development oversees the Town Council

Like what was mentioned earlier, the same ministry that is in charge of HDB oversees the Town Council. In case you’ve skimmed through the earlier part and wonder which ministry that is, it is the Ministry of National Development, and at this moment, it’s helmed by Mr Desmond Lee.

They not only ensure the Town Councils follow the laws but also monitors the performance of the Town Councils.

Town Councils only started in 1989

Do you know the Town Councils were only formed in 1989?


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Back then, it was formed so that elected MPs are given the authority and responsibility to manage the public housing estates in their constituencies, with residents participating in the decision-making process.

This way, each town can develop its distinctive character and identity.

Therefore, with every election, there might be changes in Town Councils since elected MPs can form Town Councils together.

How Many Town Councils Are There in Singapore?

As of now, there are 17 Town Councils in Singapore.

Single Member Constituencies (SMC) MPs usually form their town councils with a group of Group Representation Constituency (GRC) MPs.


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For example, the Jurong-Clementi Town Council comprises Elected MPs from Jurong GRC, Bukit Batok SMC and Yuhua SMC.

Town Councils are not just funded by the S&CC fees

Town Councils aren’t just funded by the Service & Conservancy Charges (S&CC) fees that we HDB people pay monthly.

The Government also provide grants to the Town Councils, like the S&CC Operating Grant and Goods & Services Tax (GST) Subvention.

With the funds, the Town Council will separate the funds into two types:

  • Short-term daily expenses like cleaning or general repairs
  • Long-term ones like changing big thingy like the roofing system. These long-term expenses are also known as the Sinking Funds

You can see these numbers in their annual report, and needless to say, these are usually in the millions.


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9. Town Councils can be Replaced

If a Town Council performs its duty so badly that there might be an imminent danger to residents, the MND has the power to step in and appoint someone else to perform the duties of the Town Council.

Luckily, nothing like this happened before.

10. Town Council App

Like the SGSecure app, the Town Council also have an app too. However, this app is not for you to report suspicious activity. It is for you to report issues in your residential district to your respective Town Councils.

This app is the OneService app. If you are thinking since this app is a “Town Council” app, it must be created by the Town Council.

Wrong.


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The app was not created by any individual Town Council but by the mother of all Town Councils: The Ministry of National Development.

You can report anything from the broken corridor lights outside your HDB or smokers who smoke in non-smoking area.

All in all, the Town Council do more than you think they do. Just don’t anyhowly call them just because you see a piece of tissue paper on the floor, because the cleaners engaged by the town councils don’t work 24 hours a day.

Featured Image: Sergey Peterman / Shutterstock.com

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