Thursday, May 13, 2010

Neighbourhood Meetings - a waste of time and money?

Back on 17th February 2010, the Chairman of HDC extended his appreciation to those involved in attracting 200 people to the Neighbourhood Forums. Out of a population estimate of 168,900 this isn't many. But these forums are supposed to be about engaging with the public! When I take a look at how many members of the public actually turned up to these meetings I find:

North West Huntingdonshire: 6
Huntingdon: 13
St Ives: 16
Ramsey: 6
St Neots: 7

Out of the 200 people only 48 were members of the public. None of the other notes of the neighbourhood meetings held in March/April have been published. What a waste of money. Unless the Council and its partners actually get hundreds of members of the public turning up then this will continue to be unrepresentative and a waste of money.

What is HDC doing to get more people along to these meetings? In the case of St Neots it has decided to move the meeting from the population centre to Kimbolton! Well I'm not going and I can't see many of the St Neots public going either. Looking at the map of the forum boundaries I can understand why some of these meetings moving around as many of these forum cover large wide rural areas.

There is a but. St Neots is the big population centre of the south of this District. If these meetings are going to continue and attract the public why have these miles away? I noticed the Huntingdon Neighbourhood Forum has so far been held in Huntingdon. The map shows the Huntingdon Forum covers Perry. I doubt the residents Huntingdon would be asked to go to Perry. So why are the residents of St Neots expected to go to Kimbolton?

I would prefer a system of ward meetings where local councillors meet their electors and listen to their views. These massive meetings aren't attracting the public. Try something else.

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