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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ponteland to give Community Forum a go

DESPITE a claim that the County Council's community forums plan is 'rubbish', Ponteland councillors will look into setting one up.
After reading documents detailing the new local structure when a Northumberland unitary authority replaces the existing County Council and six district councils, Ponteland Town Council Chairman Robin Ramsay presented his thoughts to members.
A community forum, which can be made up of local residents and members of businesses and organisations as well as Council representatives, will have a remit to come up with ideas and action plans for its area.
But Coun John Worth said: "We are a big town council and we should say to the County Council that these plans are a load of rubbish, they are too rushed and the Council should go back and re-think them. "We must stand up for ourselves and not let the unitary Council ride roughshod over us. "He also said he was not happy that non-elected people could be making decisions for Ponteland, when they can approach the Town Council to put forward their views.
Coun Ramsay said any forum set-up would only make suggestions that would need the approval of the Town Council, but he spoke of his concerns about how they will work, as they will be tied in with the Northumberland Strategic Partnership and area committees as well. "How this system will not produce chaos early on I don't know," he said. "But to be fair, I think the County Council is going to 'suck it and see' to start with and then decide if any changes are needed. "We have options to choose from in terms of forum membership and meetings, as they won't be the same everywhere, so we need to hold meetings with interested parties to discuss these issues and a way forward. "The other members agreed to this and Coun Peter Charleton said there were positive aspects of having a community forum. "The forum would have more public involvement and this would benefit Ponteland as these people have more expertise than we have in some areas, " he said.