Last night was the first meeting of the new Launceston Community Network Panel. Although it also wasn't.
You see, the community network panels have been put on hold by the Council Cabinet while they review the localism settlement. The agreement to localism was a central plank in the move to unitary status and so any hiatus is bad news. Like most local areas, we decided to go ahead with a meeting anyway.
The three Lib Dem Launceston councillors were joined by representatives of some of the parish councils, Launceston Town Council, the Chamber of Commerce, Launceston Forum, the health service and police (apologies if I have missed anyone). Unfortunately, Independent Councillor Neil Burden is recovering from illness and could not be there (get well soon Neil) and Conservative Councillor Phil Parsons did not attend.
It was useful as a first meeting and we will continue to have meetings both to share information and to discuss themes which are of interest. At the next meeting we will hear from the Police and from the Health Service about local services. Meetings are open to the public and anyone is welcome to come along.
There is, of course, a world of difference between discussion forums and decision making powers and I am asking the Cabinet review to make sure that the Launceston Panel can make decisions over spending that reach further than the small community chest and local highways budgets (assuming they reappear in the next financial year). Full local devolution is not going to happen and it would be wrong for the Panel to start employing staff and becoming a mini-district. But we should be able to affect the delivery of services locally and concentrate on the issues that matter most to local people.