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Posted by: John Brace | 2nd December 2013

Birkenhead Constituency Committee: Public Question Time

Birkenhead Constituency Committee: Public Question Time

                                

Jim McGinley asked the first question in the public question time at the Birkenhead Constituency Committee. His question was, “Why can’t the Council be persuaded to do what twenty-one other councils have done and insisted that the provisions of the 1985 Housing Act in relation to room size do apply to implementation of the bedroom tax?”

Paul Haywood asked two questions. The first one was “How this group is tying into the main Council and how we and the other areas are tied back to the main Council?” and his second question was about the information supplied for agenda item eight (update on data collection).

A member of the public at the back asked, “Can we start having things like workshops so we can understand?”

Lynn Evans, Chair of Devonshire Park Residents Association and Devonshire Park Neighbourhood Planning Forum asked, “A very genuine question, which is that this was introduced as a very exciting development and very new. I would really like to understand what is really exciting and what is new about this committee?

The things that we’ve heard talked about are absolutely vital, setting priorities, how public spending is controlled, making sure we get quality from contracts, looking at the huge need that we know we have in Birkenhead, but I understood that this group was about strategy and surely when we’re talking about strategy, we can’t be talking about how we can not deal with the day to day allocation of resources to address those problems but how we actually address the problems strategically? How we look at a regeneration plan for the area? How we lift ourselves up out of poverty, not looking at what is uniquely bad about Birkenhead, but looking at what our unique character is and what our unique assets are and how we can really lever those to attract investment into the area to lift ourselves out of this mentality of being a deprived area?

My view is that what we really fail our people in Birkenhead is not in terms of opportunity but in terms of aspiration and that really as a group should be setting the agenda for that and having the highest aspiration for Birkenhead. We talk about NEETs, young people who aren’t in education or training or employment but the missing link in that is entrepreneurialism. How will this group engage with the business community? How much will you give these young people something to aspire to that they can do as individuals to lift themselves and at the same time … out of the trap that we seem to feel we are in? Thank you.”

Philip asked, “Cllr Davies mentioned at the start the ambition to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan but Devonshire Park already has one. They didn’t need this committee to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan, they got on and did it. That’s what we need to do, that’s something we could do. All you need is twenty-one people, surely you can find twenty-one people across all the wards represented here and you could start working on those strategic issues? Hopefully with the help and … council officers, so you don’t need a lot of money to start working if you wanted to do …”

Pauline Cocker asked, “I’d just make suggestions to make all this more meaningful, as to me this is like an Area Forum gone mad. That somebody you know on an A4 sheet or two puts a plan together for the January meeting for what we need to look at for the budget for 2014/15 because we’re nearly at the end of this year. We’ve got to spend this money but what perhaps the priority should be that we start looking at you know in January, somebody comes up with some kind of plan we can all sit here and say ‘Yes, no, we don’t like it’ get something out.

That kind of back into the community and for it comes back at the end of March when it’s been out to the community properly so that the community feels that they’ve actually had a say in what’s going on and just another suggestion for how to spend the money, perhaps you could spend it on engaging with the children and youth who are responsible for antisocial behaviour and a lot of people will notice a difference in their area and a meaningful engagement with youth not just a one-off that keeps them busy for two weeks and then they’re back.”

Follw this link for the answers that the Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Chair of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee gave to these questions.

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