Councillors in Penryn are to hold quarterly surgeries for locals to raise issues, following a fierce discussion at January’s council meeting.
The idea of a more informal mechanism for the public to meet council members was debated by council members, who disagreed over whether or not there was a call for such a service.
Councillor Edward Wilkes said: “When I did it before, we had one person. I don’t think it’s worth it.”
Councillor Gillian Grant, deputy mayor, said the town had changed since the last time the council held surgeries, and added that instead of being monthly they could be run four times a year, with ad-hoc meetings if necessary.
Councillor David Garwood said: “I’m in favour of anything that improves accessibility with the council and engagement in the town, and I would put my name forward.”
Councillor Martin Mullins said |people have the option to come to council meetings every month as well as an annual meeting, and no-one attends.
Councillor Garwood suggested that perhaps if they were made more aware of when meetings were, and the fact they could attend, there would be greater participation, to which |councillor Mullins replied that |ignorance is no excuse.
He said town councils are “the bedrock of local democracy” and if |people don’t take an interest then they won’t be involved further up the line, adding “it’s their duty to know.”
Councillor Edward Wilkes said residents also recognised councillors, and often talked to them them outside of official channels, although it was noted that with a changing population not everyone was aware of who their councillor was or was happy to approach them.
Councillor Mary May said people only attended meetings when it affected them, and told councillors who |supported surgeries: “If you have a burning desire, then do them and work it out of your system.”
Councillor Chris Smith said: “It sends a good message to people, and is an opportunity to engage.”
The proposal was passed by eight votes to four, subject to review in a year’s time.
Councillor surgeries will be held quarterly at a variable time to allow different groups of residents to attend, and will be attended by the town mayor and deputy mayor, with one voluntary councillor and the town clerk.