Labour politicians have welcomed the new Local Community Forums launched on Monday evening but have stressed the need for the forums and work of the ‘Community Champions’ to be as open as possible.
The 17 ward based forums have each been allocated £10,000 to fund projects and improvements in their wards based on public votes. Each ward has a number of ‘Community Champions’ whose role it is to publicise and lead the forum meetings but Labour have questioned why existing democratically elected councillors were not asked to take on this role.
Questions were also raised as to why some wards had only one ‘Champion’ where as others had eight, and why there were anonymous Community Champions who had withheld their names and contact details.
Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam, said:
“We support efforts to give local residents a fair say about services in their area but there are a number of serious questions about the way the Mayor has gone about this process. How you can have a ‘community champion’ who nobody even knows about is beyond me, surely transparency and openness is vital for this project to succeed.
“People will want to be sure that decisions are taken for the benefit of the whole community and are done so following transparent and open consultation.”