FENLANDER: New priorities in Whittlesey after first of Fenland’s revamped neighbourhood forums

PARKING, anti-social behaviour and the dilapidated state of a parish hall were pinpointed last week as some of the top priorities requiring action in Whittlesey over the next three months.

They were agreed by residents who attended the first of Fenland District Council’s new-style Neighbourhood Forums, which was held at Sir Harry Smith Community College last Thursday.

Similar forums are being held elsewhere in the district over the next two months. They are designed to give people the chance to play a more active part in the shaping of their community.

People attending them are able to set three police priorities and three non-police ones. They can also determine the locations for the remaining quarterly meetings and decide on which two local community events the Community Fair will attend.

Last week’s Whittlesey Forum agreed that the focus in the town and its surrounding area should be on the following issues:

Police priorities:

• Parking in Whittlesey town, particularly near junctions

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• Violent crime and anti-social behaviour in Benwick

• Anti-social behaviour in the St Mary’s Ward/Manor field area

Non-police priorities:

• Improvements to St Mary’s Parish Room, which has fallen into disrepair

• Working with young people to deal with problems in the Pinewood area

• The ownership and upkeep of the path from Park Lane to Church Street

Residents also agreed that the Whittlesey Forum’s next three quarterly meetings will be held in Benwick, Whittlesey and Coates. And they decided that the Community Fair roadshow would support the Coates May Fair and the Whittlesey Festival.

The forums are organised by Fenland District Council, in partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council and Cambridgeshire Police. Their interactive format gives residents the opportunity to ask the panel questions on local issues. It also allows partner organisations to work together to address the concerns raised and then report back on actions and progress at the next meeting.

Councillor Steve Garratt, chairman of the Whittlesey Forum, said the first of the new-style forums had been very encouraging: “By having officer and member representatives from all the key statutory agencies sat together looking at how we can make Whittlesey and District a better place to live, the forum gave residents a great opportunity to have their say directly on the things that most concern them.

“It was great that many questions could be answered there and then, and we were also able to agree with residents on the issues that demanded the most urgent attention.”

Trevor Bass, a member of Whittlesey United Football Club, said: “The Forum gave me a chance to see what is going on in the town. I was particularly interested to hear about the new facilities at Manor Leisure Centre and the ongoing maintenance of the football pitches.”

Residents Alan and Lisa Hobbs said: “The Forums are a very good idea and give you a good sounding ground for local issues, and it’s nice to be able to get involved.”

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