Council slashes forums in half

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COMMUNITY forums are set to be cut in half at a meeting today (Thursday), with councillors claiming it will boost attendance.

Ilkeston, Long Eaton, Erewash north and Erewash south currently hold 12 meetings each a year for residents to discuss any concerns they have.

The latest move will cut down the number of groups from four to two – one for the north of the borough, meeting in Ilkeston, and one for the south, meeting in Long Eaton – and slash the number of meetings per year from 12 to six.

Erewash Labour group has blasted the move, saying meetings have not been publicised well enough.

Cllr Michelle Booth said: “There’s a lack of communication and no joined-up thinking coming from the council about community forums.

“If local members were told in advance about what’s going to be on the agenda we could round up constituents for the meetings.”

A report, set to be agreed by the council executive, said that, attendance levels for the Erewash north and south meetings were ‘consistently low’, with just four people turning up to a meeting in 2010/11.

Leader of the Council Cllr Chris Corbett said that most issues for residents outside the two towns were covered by their parish councils.

“If you live in Sandiacre, for example, will you attend a meeting in Draycott?” he said.

“Perhaps the low attendance figures are a reflection that people are happy – you only get big attendances when people are upset about things.”

The report also stated that there are fears that Derbyshire County Council may cut its £7,500-a-year grant for forum administration costs and that the move would save Erewash £600 a year.

A total of 1,151 residents responded to a consultation earlier this year, with residents asking that the meetings should be chaired by residents. They also said that the meetings should have a fixed agenda as well as a question and answer session.

The authority has said it will give chairmanship training to interested residents.