Agenda item


Councillors will present future plans for ways of engaging with the Ward’s community.


Councillor Palmer gave a presentation which suggested changes to the structure and organisation of future Ward Community Meetings.


Instead of formal meetings in a fixed venue it was suggested that a series of community walkabouts covering every street in the ward over the course of the year would be preferable.  All households would be informed and all relevant agencies would be asked to attend to answer questions, hear concerns and pick up work to do including Councillors, Housing Officers, City wardens, Cleansing Services, Highways Officers, Police and any other relevant representation.  Residents would not have to attend for the whole walkabout (they could if they wished), but could attend the walkabout on just their own street.


It was reported that the meetings in their current format generally had a good attendance, had a wide range of issues discussed at them and were lively meetings, with people beinmg able to have their say.


Councillor Palmer expressed a view that Meetings were sometimes too formal with presentations from the front and then questions and that whilst attendance had been good, it was from a very low proportion of the population living in the area.  He felt it was wrong to assume that just because people did not turn up they were not interested in their local community.


The timing of meetings was also considered to be an issue, together with   venues. Councillor Palmer felt that the idea of a “meeting” could also be detrimental as some people wanted to be involved in community issues but did not want to attend a formal meeting.


It was proposed that a report and action list could be produced and published (like meeting minutes) after each walkabout and that progress on previous issues would be reported.


It was noted that Housing Officers already do patch walks and discussions on how the community walkabouts couldlink to those patch walks were being held.


It was considered that people would see the walkabout and take part which would involve more people and reach more people in the community.


In respect of the Ward Community Budget applications it was suggested that these would still be transparent and that decisions would be reported back to the community. A more organised system was proposed with funding application deadlines through the year being agreed and Councillor’s Budget Meetings being convened which would be formally minuted and reported back to the community.


A proposal to allocate the budget to different areas of activity based on the funding bids approved since 2008/09 was submitted. From the £18,000 annual budget it was proposed that £2,500 would be required for community meeting/walkabout communication.  The remaining £15,500 would be allocated proportionally to the following categories:


§    Community events

§    Community safety and crime prevention

§    Children and youth projects

§    Older people projects

§    Other/miscellaneous


Councillor Palmer asked for questions and comments on the proposed changes to the structure an organisation of Ward Community Meetings.


The meeting discussed the ideas within the presentation and expressed support for a move away from formal meetings with a top table.  In discussing the walkabout it was considered vital that to the work of other agencies would be necessary to avoid duplication.


In discussing the recording of decisions made, it was confirmed that formal minutes would not be prepared following the walkabouts.  An action sheet detailing the problems encountered, actions required, estimated timescales for completion, and lead Officers/Agencies would be drawn up during the walkabout.


In conclusion of the item the meeting discussed the role of the Monsell Mail.  It was considered that the publication would have a vital role in promoting the walkabout initiative, reporting on findings and updating on actions. The present editorial policies were discussed and it was noted that items could be included if received within sufficient time.  In respect of the proof-reading and in reply to a particular view expressed, it was noted that the publication relied on volunteers and that a remarkable outcome was achieved having regard to the resources available.  The editorial team were congratulated on their continuing efforts.  It was noted that anyone who felt they could assist would be welcome to become involved.


Councillor Palmer was thanked for his presentation and it was agreed that the initiative be supported.  The next agreed ‘meeting’ would therefore not be convened as a meeting, in favour of a ‘Community Walkabout’.