And what if local people don’t want one ? And what about the villages ?
At the Cabinet meeting on Monday, Labour decided to set up Development Boards in towns in Calderdale, having tried it out in Todmorden. They haven’t evaluated the one in Todmorden so they haven’t learned lessons from it. It has only recently had four non-Councillors become Board members and meetings aren’t open to the public. Minutes are sometimes slow to be published so people don’t know what’s going on.
Most places have some form of local community group which brings interested people together to talk about and plan services. Sometimes it’s through the Parish Council (as in Heptonstall and Blackshawhead), or a broader but formal Partnership (as in Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd and Elland). Invariably, the public are welcome to attend, participate in and contribute to the meetings. Labour cited the lack of such a group in Halifax (although I thought that there was a “town team” there) but this is no reason for imposing their model everywhere. They say it’s flexible but there seems to be no means of negotiating it. They don’t seem to be reviewing what there is already so there could be a real risk of duplication (and nobody quite knowing who’s doing what). Recipe for a muddle and a mess !
There seems to be no thought given to villages – and even where there’s no Parish Council or formal community group, there are usually things happening and their own, local version of a village plan which could evolve into a Neighbourhood Plan.
So while there is undoubtedly the germ of a good idea here, it needs more thinking through. But Labour took it straight to Cabinet and the discussion there almost turned into a Scrutiny Panel discussion – and that’s where we hope to take it !