Criticism over advertising of Greater Thetford Development Partnership sub-group meeting

The Charles Burrell Centre at Thetford. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Charles Burrell Centre at Thetford. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

A new sub-group of the Greater Thetford Development Partnership (GTDP) has had its first meeting amid controversy over its lack of publicity.

The community sub-group meeting, intended to ensure residents have a say on future plans for Thetford, was attended by just three members of the public – something which troubled its chairman Robert Whittaker.

The partnership has come under fire for a lack of transparency before after its first meeting was held in private, and over the availability of documents.

Mr Whittaker said he had 'not been happy' about the publication of partnership business 'for some time'.

'Breckland Council fixed the date of the sub-group meeting and the agenda, but as far as I can see they had not advertised it anywhere.

'It was disappointing, despite all the issues with communication surrounding the partnership, but hopefully now the sub-group is independent and in charge of its own destiny it will be a bit better.

'We feel that transparency is quite important. Most of the meeting was spent discussing communication so it is definitely something that everyone was aware of, especially me,' he said.

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The community sub-group, made up of members of town and parish councils and community organisations, agreed three main objectives at its meeting at the Charles Burrell Centre on Monday, September 12:

– To converse with Breckland Council about improving GTDP's web presence

– To consider altering the timing of sub-group meetings so more members of the public can attend

– Asking the GTDP board that its papers and minutes, including summaries of confidential items, are 'published in a timely manner' to allow better public scrutiny

It was agreed that at future sub-group meetings there will be a section for public participation, and that members of the public will be able to comment on other items on the agenda.

Mr Whittaker said: 'It is better to have people engaged and interested in a positive way, so they can have their say and we can get things done in a better way for them.

'The group can do what it can to represent the people, and it is up to the [GTDP] board to decide how they take on the input.

'I am optimistic at the moment and hopeful that we will be able to have a positive input and get the community engaged.'

The next communities sub-group meeting is to be held in the week before the next GTDP board meeting, which takes place on Friday, October 21.

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