Future of council committee debated

Discussions have been held over the future of a Berwick Town Council committee.

Friday, 22nd February 2019, 08:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 11:36 am
Coun Robert Bruce, Berwick Town Council.

Four planned meetings of the people and communities committee have been cancelled over the past year because not enough members turned up.

At last week’s budget and administration committee meeting, Coun Alex Gibson called for it to be abolished and was backed by Coun Alan Bowlas.

“If they’re not turning up, we’re wasting time,” said Coun Gibson. “Its work could be shared between the other committees.”

However, Coun Robert Bruce said the focus should be on increasing member engagement by better forward planning and by actively seeking member suggestions for committee business.

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He was supported by Coun Gregah Roughead, who called for committee chairmen and vice-chairmen to meet town clerk Gareth Davies to further discuss a solution.

Coun Anne Forbes also felt it would be wrong to abolish it, given the excellent work it has done on homelessness and LGBT+ policies.

“I don’t think we should just have two committees,” she said. “All councillors should have the chance to be involved in at least one committee.”

In his report to members, the clerk made it clear he had no opinion but added: “Servicing a committee is a considerable expense, in terms of the production of papers, staff time and your time as volunteers.

“We can not keep asking you to turn up to more and more meetings if you are going to vote with your feet.”

Budget and administration committee members, in a recommendation to full council, called for the people and communities committee to be retained with a fresh focus on increasing member engagement.