On Monday evening, I chaired the always well-attended Transport Forum.
It brings together representatives from organisations across the spectrum who, broadly, have a commercial or user interest in transport in the town. The bus companies are there, together with the rail companies and the airport. Individual local charities are represented. Some people are there to advocate for their members - Darlington's Cycling Campaign have begun sending members, which is very welcome, and Darlington Association on Disability is always there. Growing Older Living in Darlington and now the Parish Councils and community groups in the town also have a strong presence. It makes for lively, sometimes spikey but never dull debate.
Monday was no different. It was the first time that Labour and the Tories have crossed swords on car parking for a while - the Council's car parking proposals (including making the third hour free in Darlington's short-stay car parks and introducing "pay-by-text") were well-received.
The most stimulating debate was probably around the Tees Valley Councils' plans to significantly improve public transport over the next few years. The proposal which attracted most interest was the light rail initiative, which will take trains off of the Darlington to Middlesbrough line and replace them with trams. These can run more frequently, and have the potential to link Darlington railway station, a site in east Darlington possibly around Morton Palms, the airport (providing a regular rail link at last) and Teesside. You can see the report for yourself (together with the other agenda items, including the proposal for a car club in the town) at http://www.darlington.gov.uk/Democracy/Political+Management/Meeting.htm?id=482
Anyone group with an interest in transport in Darlington can join the Forum - meetings are very open, and representatives are encouraged to submit agenda items highlighting areas of concern or interest for consideration by the whole meeting. For more information contact the Council's Democratic Services' section via firstname.lastname@example.org or drop me a line.