Friday, November 26, 2010

Can the Town Council regain Quality Status?

The Town Council is looking to regain Quality Town Status. This is a tough ask of the Town Council as many of the required tests will need a shift in how the Town Council is run and communicates with the residents. The Guidance for obtaining Quality Status is here.

I've had a run through of the tests to see how far off the Town Council is and looked at this through the eyes of a resident and not those who will judge any application. For more information go to the guidance.

Passes with flying colours.
The Town Clerk has gained these qualifications.
The Town Council doesn't always give public notice to meetings. One example was the Special Council Meeting held on 13th September 2010.
The main reason for failure is the non publication of the Annual Report. There are also issues over Priorities as there is no specific section. Also, whilst delivered to every home, I haven't seen this at public sites.
The Town Council meets only 4 out of the minimum 9 discretionary requirements. Number 8 has an X next to it because it has formulated a Community Engagement Strategy but hasn't informed anyone about it. At the time of writing it wasn't on the Town Council website. What is the point of this strategy is no one is informed of it? Hardly community engagement! So 5 out of the minimum 9.

This would be fascinating and courageous of the Town Council to do. Therefore unlikely to happen!
The Town Council has been getting away with just a the Mayor's Report at the Annual Town Meeting. Now it will need to inform residents of what it has been up to. 
After the 2 damning reports into the Town Council, the town Council could have gotten away with them as they were both unqualified.
In my view to pass this test the Town Council needs to change. It needs to inform and engage, neither which it has done in the past. Secrecy still abounds with meetings not publicised and minutes and agendas for some committee meeting not on the website. Of course they could take the easy way out of do schools. But this is a large Town Council and the largest Town in the County. It should do more to engage with residents.
I don't know it the Town Clerk is employed under NALC?SLCC terms and conditions.
The Town Council has some way to go to meeting all the tests. CPALC will be the ones to judge whether St Neots Town Council is worthy of the status of Quality Town Council.

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