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Shake-up promises new deal for Wirral's local forums
Wirral Council’s eleven local area forums are to be scrapped and replaced by new groups based around the borough’s four parliamentary constituencies.
The existing forums are not attracting enough people to make them effective - and staging the events is costing the cash-strapped council £1,300 for each person attending.
The new proposed “neighbourhood working” approach – set to be introduced in April – is intended to develop a closer relationship between the council and residents.
The accent will be on trying to ensure future service delivery reflects a better understanding of householders’ views through consultation and participation.
Police, fire and health authorities have all reacted positively to the new parliamentary-based model and have indicated their willingness to participate.
Council leader Phil Davies said: “Purely and simply we believe that the area forums system isn’t working effectively.
“We have lots of examples where the public is not engaging.
“The system is also extremely expensive to run – it works out at £1,300 per person who attends meetings.
“In the present financial climate we need to make sure we spend every penny wisely.”
Councillor Davies said the four constituencies - Wallasey, Birkenhead, Wirral West Wirral and Wirral South - are well accepted and recognised boundaries which have been in place for many years.
“The police, fire and health authorities are very keen to work with us on the four constituency basis and we believe it is a better model in terms of having stronger influence over decisions made in those areas. It will also save money,” he said.
He revealed Wirral Council would devolve “a modest amount” of money towards the scheme in year one with more cash, power and responsibility being allocated if it worked effectively.
Councillor Davies added: “It is well worth trying. We have an all-party local democracy committee looking at the details.”
Each constituency will have a public service board which will bring together bodies including the council, police, fire and health services to co-ordinate the strategic delivery of a constituency plan.
Staff and services will be located within each area and a constituency committee will be set up in each zone.