More power for district’s groups

COUNCILLORS have approved plans to revamp Ashfield’s local Area Consultative Groups (ACGs) in an effort to make them more responsive to the needs of the communities they represent.

Ashfield District Council has four ACGs - one each to represent Kirkby, Sutton, Hucknall and the rural areas of the district.

Ward members for the areas sit on the groups and their function has been to be responsible for making recommendations to the executive on issues such as car parks, community centres and allotments, to formulate responses to consultation documents and to consider capital bids for their area.

But following an unanimous vote at last week’s full council meeting, the groups’ remits are set to be increased to encourage greater community involvement.

Simon Oldham, democratic services manager, said in his report into the matter: “The ACGs could be an excellent tool to engage with the community to better understand their needs in relation to access to services and general quality matters, assisting in the council’s understanding of its community before deciding upon courses of action.”

Some changes to the ACGs were made last year following a review by the Scrutiy Panel B, but further consultation with members was carried out to look at more ways of enhancing the way ACGs function and to engage more widely with their local communities.

Recommendations accepted by councillors last week include:

l changing the name to ‘area committees’

l giving the committees greater flexibility on utilising their budgets

l increasing the frequency of meetings

l exploring the involvement of the police to enable area committees to recommend policing priorities.