Bid to revive people’s voice

Brian Coope taking part in a previous campaign to clean up Blackpool
Brian Coope taking part in a previous campaign to clean up Blackpool
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Campaigners are hoping to revive a network which gave residents a community voice.

Brian Coope and Bill Greene have joined forces to launch the South Shore Community Partnership.

People feel there is a gap and not much interaction

They hope it will be the first of a number of new groups in Blackpool to fill the gap left by the loss of the town’s area forums.

The latter were run by the council, but were axed in 2015 as part of budget cuts.

Mr Coope, who was vice-chairman of the former Parklands Areas Forum, said: “We are trying to revive the area forums in a new form.

“At the moment people feel there is a gap, and there is not much interaction between the public, the police and the council.

“We are starting off with a pilot project in South Shore and then hope to rejuvenate one in Park ward.

“We want to get the community to work with the police, and if local councillors want to get involved that’s great but I’m not going to push them.

“Hopefully word will get round and we can stimulate a lot of interest.

“We want to make a big impact at our first meeting so people will keep coming back to the meetings.”

Traders and businesses will also be invited to be part of the partnership.

It is proposed to hold the first meeting on Tuesday September 27 between 6pm and 8pm at South Shore Community Centre in Highfield Road.

The first 30 minutes will be a marketplace, where community groups can promote their work and make contacts with each other.

An initial meeting has already been held between interested parties.

A report from that meeting states: “The purpose is to enable the community to develop itself and increase self-sufficiency and resilience through positive means.”

It is also hoped to link up with established groups such as Neighbourhood Watch in order to apply for funding which would be used to support the work of the new partnership.

Forums were axed as part of budget cuts

Area Forums were scrapped by Blackpool Council in 2015.

It had already been decided to axe their funding, which was given away to grassroots causes.

The move was part of £158,000 savings from that year’s town hall budget.

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

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

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

The council said it would adopt other ways of consulting with residents.

These include a highways forum which meets to discuss large-scale projects impacting on the roads.