Friday, 22 January 2010

Launceston Community Network Meeting

We had the first formal meeting for the new Launceston Community Network last night and agreed the formal set up of the new panel which I will chair for the next year.

The Network is the local face of Cornwall Council. It includes representatives from the 16 parishes and the town council as well as the Launceston Forum. The Police and the Health Service are also standing members and we will be inviting lots of other groups to come along to chat about issues that matter to them. But the panel is not a closed shop. The aim is to reach out to as many people as possible and have large attendances and good debate at meetings.

The panel will meet every quarter and will theme its meetings to issues of local concern. The next meeting will be on 15th April in Boyton and will be discussing two key issues:

- the TRAC project which aims to create a trail linking the Devon border (and the Granite Trail) with the existing Camel Trail, and

- play areas across the whole of the Launceston network area.

We'll be issuing invitations to lots of local groups in due course. But if you area interested in either of these subjects, please put the date in your diary and come along.

As well as these themed meetings, a lot of work will continue behind the scenes. The Network has a local manager - Mark O'Brien - and support assistant - Rosemary Stone - who will do a lot of the hard work. And we are supporting the Launceston Forum to refresh their excellent Launceston 20/20 plan as the outline for how our area can develop. Part of this work will include public consultation and themed meetings - more on this when the details are decided.


DNP said...

Alex, I've only just come across your blog and my comments are somewhat after the event. I'd be interested to hear your views about:
* How the engagement and contribution of parish councils can be encouraged.
* How you see localism working in practice.

Derrick Parsons

Alex Folkes said...

I think that the town and parish councils will become more and more involved as they realise that the community network panels can actually get things done for them. Of course, for that to happen, the panel needs to show that what it identifies as problems are raised with the council and the coucnil listens. We won't always get immediate action. But we can make a pursuasive case for change.

How will localism work in practice - we need the council to accept that different parts of Cornwall are, well, different. If the different panels identify different problems, then the Council needs to work on these. I am confient that we can do it in Launceston then so will the rest. Maybe they will develop at different rates and in different directions, but they will develop.

DNP said...

Alex, In response to your comments:

1."the town and parish councils will become more and more involved as they realise that the community network panels can actually get things done for them". I admire your optimism but, let's be frank, the attendance from parishes at the LCNP meetings have been poor and I think that some effort needs to put into getting parishes to come along to the meetings. From where I sit, very little has been done in this area. It's a new way of operating and parishes need to be persuaded of this. Why haven't there been personal presentations to all of the PCs about the LCNP and what they can get out of the meetings? Sending around a meeting agenda is not the same as giving a PC direct information and letting them ask questions.
2. I'd love to know how localism is supposed to work in practice but I have a strong suspicion that no-one can answer this question. At the time the draft localism document came around for comment, I raised many queries but none were answered to my satisfaction. Given the cost of setting up (and running) the new unitary authority, it really is not good enough to have so much still up in the air. In my professional life, I have been directly involved with corporate mergers and transition projects and what I see so far from Cornwall is not impresssing me.