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BPC, NDP and BOB ...

Posted on 11th December, 2017

 

As another year of actively campaigning for access to public information draws to an end BOB would like to clarify a few things regarding the rumours about Bleadon Parish Council's duties, powers & responsibilities, both in general and more topicly in relation to the Neighbourhood Development Plan, and BOB's view of them.

 

It would help if people keep the following in mind when reading any correspondence from BPC and/or BOB:
  • BPC is residents' elected/co-opted representative and Statutory Consultee. In order to carry out these roles they need to actively communicate and engage with all residents, including access to documented information. The Government has produced best practice guidance documents and model advice to advise all councils how best to do this, which BOB is asking BPC to follow and deliver.
  • Government has reiterated, especially in relation to the NDP process, "The relationship between any group and the formal functions of the town or parish council should be transparent to the wider public ... The terms of reference for a steering group or other body should be published and the minutes of meetings made available to the public" (e.g. BPC Management Working Group, Steering Group, etc.).
  • On average, 97% of residents do not regularly attend BPC meetings. This makes access to documented information regarding councillors' actions and decisions, taken on behalf of residents, essential if BPC truly want to represent residents.
  • BPC demand an annual precept, stated to be £44k (an increase of over 13%) for 2018/19. Access to information is required for the public to understand how this is being spent on their behalf whether through the purchase of assets or employing staff, etc. Also, whether money is coming from precept or reserves, and why.
  • Residents are aware of how, at times, BPC negatively speak about each other and the public, and so some people ask BOB to raise their concerns and questions indirectly. In response BPC has invoked a policy stating they will not answer any communications from residents via BOB for over a year, until Feb 2018. Therefore BPC has a communication issue with all concerned residents, not just BOB.
  • BPC started the NDP process in July 17, yet there is no publicly accessible information. BPC "look to hold" the first public discussion meeting "early next year", i.e. 6 months after the project began. They are currently discussing whether to take money from BPC financial reserves to start financing a NDP, without any NDP costs yet being publicly declared.
BOB is not asking for any special treatment. BOB has been asking for many years, on behalf of residents, for BPC to be open, honest and transparent in its actions and decision making (Nolan Principles of public office); asking for simple access to timely and accurate public information; and for BPC to hold interactive public meetings on large projects such as NDP. BOB has been asking BPC to actively communicate and engage with all residents not just a select chosen few..

 

So, to reiterate, BOB is not necessarily against a Neighbourhood Plan but with no/little publicly accessible information from BPC, nor its aims or its decision making processes, it will be very difficult for residents to make any informed decisions of their own on the matter.

 

To help clarify information on the NDP we have been collating a variety of information as summarised on the BOB Neighbourhood Planning and Planning Policies pages. Also Public Representation.

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