Down to Hurworth last night, where the Parish Council had kindly agreed to take me up on my offer to say a few words and discuss issues of importance to the village.
At the start of the meeting, Ian Holme, a regular contributor to this blog, was made vice chair of the Council. It was also good to meet Ian White, and renew my acquaintance with Peter Foster and Alan Gibson who both had previously been Borough Councillors (Alan in particular was a shrewd operator in the Tory cause).
After my spiel, questions ranged from financial support for the Grange to the planning conditions attached to the recently-passed Snipe House Farm development. I'm now busy getting replies back to the issues raised.
I'll be down in Hurworth again on 31st October to chair the "Talking Together" meeting. ‘Talking Together’ is the initiation of an ongoing process of informal area-based engagement to be established in each of the five street scene areas (South West, Central, Northwest, South East, North East). The ‘Talking Together’ events are informal events lasting two and a half hours. Services across the council together with the Primary Care Trust (PCT), Police and CVS will have exhibition areas to interact with the public to:
· Inform the public about the standard of services being delivered in their area
· Consult them about priorities and service improvement
· Inform and consult on other developments specific to that locality or borough.
The last hour of the session will be in the form of a Question and Answer session giving opportunities for the public to question a panel, chaired by a Cabinet member. The panel will also include Ada Burns, the Council's Chief Executive, the police and PCT. It is also hoped that local councillors will be in attendance at events and be part of the panel.
‘Talking Together’ is a pilot and if successful will be held quarterly in each of the five street scene areas at different venues in wards within the street scene areas to ensure all wards get to host a meeting.
Okay, so I cut and pasted the last 4 paragraphs from an officer's letter, but you get the drift. I don't know whether the Talking Together initiative will form the basis of a final locality-based consultation model, but the Council really is making every effort to listen to the views and concerns of residents around the town.