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Matthew Hancock
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ONE Haverhill to stay behind closed doors

Wednesday, 26th September 2012.

The board of ONE Haverhill has refused to open its meetings to the public.

At a meeting earlier this week, members voted seven to four with several abstentions that their deliberations should remain behind closed doors, apart from their six-monthly public forum.

The decision came to light at last night's meeting of Haverhill Town Council, which had agreed to back ONE Haverhill's community budgeting pilot project as long as the meetings were made public.

ONE Haverhill now has a website, at which notes of board meetings are made available to view.

The board is made up of representatives from town, borough and county councils, along with agencies, utilities, the voluntary sector, the Chamber of Commerce and the faith community, and aims to direct funding coming into Haverhill more efficiently.

It is delivering the community budgeting pilot, which is one of 12 nationally selected by the Government.

Town clerk Will Austin revealed the decision to cries of 'Shame' from both councillors and the public at last night's meeting.

Cllr Maureen Byrne said she was 'very sad and disappointed' at the decision, but would not let the issue go.

"It's about accountability," she said. "People should be able to go along and raise issues they have."

Cllr Roger Andre, who is a member of the ONE Haverhill board, said it was a democratic decision and there had been discussion about how minutes of meetings could be disseminated more widely.

"I am more satisfied than I was before that there is some accountability," he said. "We don't want to rock the balance of ONE Haverhill at this very important time."

Town mayor Cllr Pat Hanlon said he worried about the 50,000 of public money going to support ONE Haverhill.

Cllr Phillip French said the decision went against the name of the organisation, which purported to bring the town together and was doing the exact opposite.

"This is not the way forward to gain the trust of the people of this town," he said.

Cllr Byrne inquired how many of those who voted not to make the meeting public were democratically elected councillors, but the individual voting had not been recorded.

Haverhill Online News

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