Monday, 18 April 2011

Giving local people a voice in local decisions

Labour Councillor Jude Robinson has blogged about her frustrations over the community network panel in her area of Camborne and Redruth. I share many of her concerns.

When the unitary council was created, the Liberal Democrats demanded that there should be local panels to ensure that the views of residents and of town and parish councils were taken into account in decisions which affect local areas.

Under our vision, these would be properly accountable local bodies with real decision making powers. Unfortunately, the Conservatives did not agree and their first action when they took control of the council was to put a halt to all localism work whilst they reviewed it.

And so the community networks started almost a year late and with no real authority. Quite rightly, different areas have developed their panels in different ways and there is no 'one size fits all' approach. It seems from what Jude says that the Camborne and Redruth panel is not working in quite the way that local members might like.

In contrast, the panels in the East seem to be working a lot better. In Launceston, for example, the panel has held discussions on the need for affordable housing with parish councils talking directly to Cabinet Member Mark Kaczmarek about what they want to see in their area. This Thursday, we will be meeting again to look at the refreshed Launceston 2020 plan to consider what community infrastructure will be needed alongside housing and retail developments which might come forward in the future.

Thursday's meeting will be held at Egloskerry Village Hall at 7pm and all are welcome to attend.

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