Ward forum meetings were introduced around five years ago as an opportunity for residents, councillors, Council officers and the Council’s partner organisations such as the Police to get together to discuss issues of interest and concern.
They’re held quarterly in each of the 17 wards around Calderdale, most often with an open agenda and sometimes with specific topics of discussion.
Whilst their value has been hotly debated over the years, I’m a big supporter. Why? Simply because it’s always been my experience that when people come together to gain more of a common understanding, and work together towards common goals rather than coming at things separately, then so much more can be achieved - and ward forums are a means to do just that.
Residents’ views on Council services are listened to, fed back on and can genuinely influence future decision making.
The Neighbourhood Policing teams also take part, so it’s a chance to hear about and influence policing priorities in your area too.
I chatted to a couple of Rastrick residents attending a recent ward forum about why they took the time out to attend. Geoffrey Thompson from the Field Lane area goes primarily as part of his commitment to being a Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator. He likes to go to forums to find out what’s going on and feed back on anything. Anne Chadwick of Close Lea told me that it’s important to her to put something back into the community and that she thinks its up to people to step forward and get involved and not just leave things to the ‘authorities’ alone.
The next round for Brighouse will see meetings on Thursday April 25 at Hipperholme and Lightcliffe High School, Wednesday May 15 at The Mulberry Suite, Brighouse Sixth Form Centre, Parsonage Lane and Monday June 10 at Rastrick High School Technology Centre’s Community Hub, Field Top Road. All meetings begin with refreshments and informal chat at 6.30pm for a 7pm start and finish by 8.30pm, if not sooner.
I hope to get the opportunity to meet you at the Rastrick forum, and I’m sure my ward colleagues at the Hipperholme and Lightcliffe and Brighouse forums would love to see some new faces as well as the more regular ones at their forums too.