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Mayor unhappy at town's new forum

Friday, 27th January 2012.

Haverhill's town mayor Cllr Maureen Byrne has criticised the town's new forum One Haverhill as 'too informal'.

Cllr Byrne was speaking at a meeting of Haverhill Area Working Party (HAWP) which was discussing its own terms of reference in the light of the formation of One Haverhill and fears of work being duplicated by the two bodies.

She said she far preferred HAWP, which is a part of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, and answers to the council's cabinet.

"It's more democratic and more accountable," she said. "I'm not convinced we need the two."

She was concerned that the issue being brought up might threaten the existence and work of HAWP if it was decided there was duplication, which there was bound to be during the crossover time when One Haverhill was being set up.

Cllr Pat Hanlon had similar reservations and said HAWP was 'a voice for Haverhill at cabinet level, which was very important, and also a meeting open to the public.

One Haverhill will hold two public forums a year, but meets behind closed doors for the rest of the time.

It contains representatives of the public, private and voluntary sectors in the town, with councillors being in a minority, whereas on HAWP, although it has some other representatives by invitation, only St EDmundsbury councillors can vote.

Cllr Anne Gower said One Haverhill did have the ear of St Edmundsbury's cabinet through the council's Haverhill portfolio holder being on it (currently herself) who is a cabinet member.

But Cllr Byrne said One Haverhill had no budget and no minutes of its meetings, making it too informal.

Members admitted there had been some problems in setting up One Haverhill. Cllr Gower said: "The difficulties are because we are trying to think differently and govern differently.

"It is in the organic process of coming to what it will finally be," she said.

HAWP chairman Cllr Karen Richardson said they would be reviewing its terms of reference again in a year's time, by which time One Haverhill should have found its feet and it would be easier to make a judgement.

Among the decisions HAWP took at its meeting yesterday were to agree new welcome signs for Haverhill, to name the plaza outside the Leisure Centre Jubilee Plaza for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and to approve the latest details of design for the public artwork in High Street.

This will be a giant sculpture in metalwork of a head reflecting the 'Face of Haverhill', which will broadcast via monitors in its eyes and speakers in its mouth.

It is thought to be the only artwork of its kimd anywhere in the world.

Members also heard updates on the community football project at the New Croft, the arrival of superfast broadband in Haverhill this month, and the shopping project which is aiming to improve the town centre's retail offer.

Haverhill Online News

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