Forums axed...but council still talking

Council chief executive Neil Jack with Harry Ingle, 18mths, Gail and Lawson Atkinson on the 'Council Couch' last year
Council chief executive Neil Jack with Harry Ingle, 18mths, Gail and Lawson Atkinson on the 'Council Couch' last year
0
Have your say

Area forums are set to be scrapped as Blackpool Council tries new ways of talking to people.

The move follows a decision to axe area forum funding which was given away to grassroots causes, as part of savings of £158,000 in this year’s town hall budget.

A look back at attendance shows they have been limited in attracting new audiences unless there are controversial issues for discussion

Another £18,000 will be saved by not having to hire out rooms or pay allowances, and on not providing tea and coffee.

Two members of staff have also taken voluntary redundancy.

A report to the council’s executive says: “generally the same people attend time after time”.

It adds: “A look back at attendance shows they have been limited in attracting new audiences unless there are controversial issues for discussion.”

Other ways of consulting with residents will be considered instead, such as creating citizen’s panels made up of around 1,000 people committed to completing regular surveys.

The council couch, which enables residents to meet senior council officers, is also being re-introduced.

John Garnham, who was a community representative on the Cherry Tree Area Forum, said: “Most people agreed the area forums weren’t very productive because you weren’t able to discuss anything outside the ward.

“It meant for example, people at our area forum could not discuss issues in the town centre.

“If consultation takes another form, the council needs to ensure people are told what the feedback was which doesn’t really happen at the moment.”

Share your views on the council couch

The council couch’ is embarking on a tour across the the town.

The next events are at Grange Park shops today, and then at Mereside shops on June 30, both between 2pm and 5pm,

Neil Jack, the council’s chief executive, said: “Last year’s council couch was a real success in terms of getting out into the community and understanding people’s needs and priorities. Over 500 people turned up to tell us what we are doing well and what we could do better.”