Meetings to focus on hot topics to boost attendance

An illustration of how the Sinah Lane development could look if a planning pplication is passed. Picture: Barratt Homes

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COMMUNITY Action Team meetings will be changed in an attempt to make them more relevant and attract more people to attend.

A raft of changes was signed off at yesterday’s executive meeting of Fareham Borough Council.

Leader Sean Woodward said: ‘People are interested in hot topics that happen in their neighbourhoods, maybe because they are controversial or interesting.

‘We don’t know when these are going to happen so we feel it’s silly to set a date for these meetings because these events cannot be predicted.

‘These changes give us far more flexibility.’

Currently community action team meetings, known as CAT meetings, are held four times a year in five areas of Fareham – Portchester, Titchfield, Crofton, Fareham Town and Whiteley.

A survey in 2013 found residents would like to attend these meetings if they felt the content was appropriate.

A report was commissioned looking at how to boost the attendance, which was signed off yesterday.

From January, the meetings will be held in 10 smaller areas with one fixed date for a summer meeting, with the ability to hold more meetings as and when required.

These meetings will be focused on single topics of community relevance.

A meet-the-leader session will be held in each area annually, to include a police round-up, with some areas combined to meet the yearly target.

Many councillors voiced their opinions to Mr Woodward yesterday, with some concerned they would not be able to speak unless a question was directed at them.

They were also worried about the appointment of the chairman and whether they would have to support council policies.

Councillor Peter Davies said: ‘I’d like to see a code of conduct for councillors at CAT meetings.

‘I would not want to see councillors rant about their party political hobby horses but I would like to see them focus an incisive question put to an outside body they would not normally have the opportunity to question.’

Cllr Woodward said it was not appropriate for councillors to speak unless asked and he signed off the changes, which will see the CAT meetings continue next year at a cost of £21,900.