Thursday, 5 June 2008

Are community forums useful?

Last night was our regular community tasking forum. These are organised by our town team. The attendance is usually poor. We have the police in the form of our neighbourhood sergeant and a PCSO, two or three councillors, a member of the town team and yesterday about twenty concerned residents. The format is that concerns are voiced, recorded, followed up and reported back to the next meeting. Two of our local councillors participated in the debate last night but a third sat at the side just taking notes. I bet that all the concerns appear in their next newsletter. I’d rather see them actually doing something but then I’m a bit old fashioned like that. It’s interesting though to watch the body language and to listen to the concerns. Some appear to be minor but to the complainant are major matters which are affecting their lives.
We have a uniquely designed mini traffic island at the bottom of our road. This as been the subject of many complaints over the years and is a regular at these meeting. Nothing ever gets done. Recently though a resident who does not live in our road was campaigning to have drivers who use this island inappropriately prosecuted. I’ve seen the local police use it incorrectly and I am one of the regular offenders so last night in a moment of pique I suggested the cops arrest me. At this juncture several other members also admitted to the offence. I’m not saying we are right but the problem is the island design not the users who are not behaving badly or irresponsibly. I do however think that the busy body who was making the fuss should mind her own business. Let’s campaign for improved safety conditions on this road and leave the police to do some proper policing.
I love some of the council “speak” which comes with the feed back sheet and almost always means “clear off we are not going to do anything about that” example from the last paragraph concerning our island:-
“This item is still ongoing; we will be investigating in due course.
No works have been agreed to and our findings may be that, apart from minor maintenance works, none need to be undertaken. However if we do identify a requirement to carry out modifications to the junction, these will be subject to suitable funding.
Therefore I can confirm that, at the present moment, there is no time scale for these works.”

As I said clear off etc.

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