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Unitary Pilot Committee needs a broader vision

Bridgnorth Town Councillor, David Walker, has criticized the current unitary pilot scheme running in Bridgnorth as being too narrow in scope and only focused on grant funding.

Members were informed during a debate on Unitary at the Town Council, that the pilot scheme was not very effective at representing the issues and views of Bridgnorth. Speaking during the debate David pointed out that SALC is failing to take full advantage of the opportunity presented by the move to a unitary council and previous commitments from the larger town councils to collectively push for a much bigger role in discussion have largely come to naught.

Speaking after the meeting, David said: “Once the new council takes over next June, the local Area Committee, which takes over from this body, should be a real force for change in our town, reflecting local views and opinions and actually getting problems sorted.

“However what bothers me is the lack of vision shown by the pilot body. Yes these grants are welcome but it is their remit to do much more. Over a number of years the powers that be at Shirehall have consistently shown a lack of vision when it come to area committees. If this translates from the pilot into the new Area Committees then they will degenerate into another ‘top down’ talking shop.

“If these committees are to be effective then more powers and resources need to flow down towards local communities. The ideas and the drive need to come from the parishes and the local communities and not from Shirehall. The committees need to represent their communities.

“Ideally they should be working in close partnership with the Town Council to solve problems like enforcing laws on litter and the ‘A’ boards that are cluttering up the high street. However they must be empowered to effectively hold Shirehall to account. What must not be allowed to happen is for this body to just be a committee that meets occasionally to dole out grant funding. That would just be a sop to localism.”

Heather Kidd Liberal Democrat local campaigner said “Lib Dems have a real vision for this very local working, where Bridgnorth people, including the Town Council are consultees on changes to the Town and can have a real say in how things happen in the area. This should include deciding how the town responds to visitors and local trade, whether the Tourist information is in the right place, are the Library opening times right, bus times correct and a host of other things. Things should be done with people rather than to people. In fact working with a team of officers to reflect the local needs of Bridnorth and its surrounding area.”