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Calls to reinstate axed area committee meetings
12:00pm Friday 10th June 2011 in M-N
CENTRAL Dudley councillors have called for a rethink on a "diabolical" cost-cutting move to reduce the number of area committee meetings.
Council officers have decided to cut the five public meetings a year to three in a bid to save cash.
However members of Central Dudley area committee have put forward a motion calling for council officials to restore the five meetings, after a member of the public expressed concerns.
In a letter to the committee, Netherton resident Mahbub Rahman said the move would leave members of the public with fewer opportunities to meet with their ward councillors and raise issues affecting their wards.
As part of the new timetable the next meeting of the committee is not scheduled until October 4, with the following meeting pencilled in for January 31.
Agreeing with Mr Rahman, councillors also spoke of their fears of cutting down the number of meetings.
St Thomas's ward councillor, Shaukat Ali, said: "I think it is important that area committees give people an opportunity to raise issues with officers and councillors. We should be doing more to engage with local people not taking these opportunities away.
Fellow ward councillor Steve Waltho, echoed the views, adding: "This is a diabolical move to cut down the interaction between councillors and members of the public."
Accepting the motion, council bosses said any further decision would have to made by full council, which had originally agreed the cut.
Councillor Tim Wright, cabinet member for human resources, law and governance, said: "In March this year the full council approved plans to reduce the number of area committees from five to three a year, as part of the Revenue Budget Strategy. This was ratified at the annual council meeting in May when the programme of meetings was approved.
"The motion agreed by Central Dudley area committee to restore the number of area committees to five per year is contrary to the full council decision on this matter. The council has noted the committee's views but any decision will come from a meeting of the full council."
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