August is a time when work at the Council slows down, and few formal meetings are scheduled. However, one of the working parties I belong to will be meeting to examine the role of Area Committees. Over the last 12 years Area Committees have come under considerable scrutiny but nothing has been done to change them. However, it is now being proposed that Area Committees should be abandoned and possibly replaced with Community Forums similar to those operating in Bournemouth.
Poole currently has 6 Area Committees including Broadstone, Merley and Bearwood Area Committee. On occasions attendance exceeds 100 although 30 to 40 is more usual. Meetings have formal agendas and residents contribute to discussions which inform the decisions ward councillors make. Residents can ask for specific items to be put on the agenda. Issues have included parking; cuts to bus services – the battle to save the No.3 service comes to mind; aeroplane noise; double yellow lines; Footpath 5; unauthorised Traveller encampments; play area improvements and open space management. In addition to a small budget of about £4,600 for minor road schemes Area Committees can determine how developer contributions are spent. Plans and funding have recently been approved for both the Lewesdon Drive and the Recreation Ground play areas. Local Forums operate very differently. They would be chaired by a local resident with councillors in attendance. However, such a Forum cannot make decisions on behalf of the council, unlike an Area Committee, and there would be no funding available for community use. Does this mean they would become nothing more than a talking shop? Would this improve local involvement?
I would like to hear your views. Contact me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or at my monthly Saturday surgeries in Broadstone Library 10.00 – 12.00. Enjoy the summer recess.
Cllr Mike Brooke