Adam, Sasha and myself were all present at this month's meeting of Launceston Town Council, as were local community network officers Mark O'Brien and Rosemary Stone.
The Community Networks are a key plank of the move to a Unitary Council. There is no point creating a single council for Cornwall if all the power is then going to be centralised in Truro. The Cornish capital is fifty miles away from Launceston and most local people do not make the trip there with any sort of regularity. They are certainly not going to be able to go there for council meetings.
And so the idea of a local forum, bringing together the five local elected Cornwall Councillors as well as the town and parish councils is a good thing. I made the point last night that the forum also needs to bring in the Police, local health services and a wide range of community groups. All are vital to service provision in the area and all need to play a part in debating local priorities and local services.
How this will work in reality is currently being debated. But I am disturbed by rumours that the new Tory/Independent administration is rowing back from a commitment to give the Community Network forums real decision making powers. We don't need another talking shop and local people will be disillusioned if that is all that the forum becomes. We need to have control over locally devolved budgets, we need to be able to set spending priorities and we need to have the power to ask officers to account for the services they are providing locally. Mark, Rosemary and all the other locally based officers are doing a fine job. But the forum will need the power to summon the decision makers at County Hall to meetings to discuss the best services for Launceston and the surrounding villages.
Also at last night's meeting I reported back on my work to get the Kensey Valley Meadow development adopted, on the need for a new crossing at St Thomas Road, the need for a second crossing on Western Road, hedge cutting on Western Road and the removal of the advertising hoardings.