‘People have a right to quiz councillors about big issues’ - calls for council to hold more evening meetings

Harry Clarke.

Harry Clarke. - Credit: Archant

A district councillor is calling on his authority to hold meetings in evenings to encourage the public to become more involved in important issues affecting their communities.

Labour's Harry Clarke, who represents the Dereham Withburga ward on Breckland Council, says for big issues, such as planning applications of more than 150 homes, an evening meeting should be a requirement so people can attend after work.

Mr Clarke also wants at least three out of the 12 monthly meetings to be held in the evening and thinks residents should be allowed to send in written questions.

He said: 'Many residents tell me they don't get the chance to have a say about the big local issues, that's simply not good enough.

'As well as making meetings more family and worker friendly, I want 25 minutes set aside for people to ask questions.

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'People have a right to quiz their councillors about big local issues but that's not always possible at the moment. We need to make sure anyone who wants to have a say can come along and speak out.'

Mr Clarke said he wants to see more transparency in local politics and helped set up the cross-party 'meet your councillors' event, which sees town, district and county councillors meeting residents at Dereham Library and other venues to give advice on local issues.

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Breckland Council leader William Nunn said: 'I've been a councillor for over 22 years and this issue has been raised before, but the majority of members have always agreed they were happy with the current system for day-to-day business.

'This has been for a number of reasons, from parents who find it easier to attend whilst their children are at school to older people who prefer not to drive to and from the office in the dark.

'However, we do hold meetings in the evening from time to time. For example, during the recent Local Plan consultation we organised open meetings in all the market towns that were open until late. Meetings such as the Town and Parish Council Forum are also held in the evening.'

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