'Let's work together' plea

THE first small step in bringing Exmouth's 'disenfranchised' community groups in from the cold was taken on Monday night when the town council held out an olive branch.

THE first small step in bringing Exmouth's 'disenfranchised' community groups in from the cold was taken on Monday night - when the town council held out an olive branch.A new council initiative, a Community Liaison Panel, was introduced and explained by Cllr Darryl Nicholas and Cllr Mark Williamson - initially to a sceptical audience at the town council's annual meeting.He said the council hoped to work more closely with groups like the Exmouth Citizens' Forum, Exmouth Community Association, Exmouth Residents' Association, The Exmouth Society and Save Avenues from Despoliation.Community groups had felt disenfranchised with democratic process, he admitted - and certainly many of the audience initially treated the exercise with a degree of scepticism.But Cllr Nicholas said the move was to enable the "whole community to be heard and have their say".He said: "It is not always the case that community groups have felt they have a place within the council that they can affect council policy - now, hopefully, they can start having a real impact on the decision-making process."Some of the audience, including resident Noel Harrow, of the Exmouth Citizens' Forum - which recently took part in a high profile 'no' campaign against an Asda on The Exe - seemed to warm to the idea.He said: "There is a long history of councillors not listening and then people get very angry."I would like to congratulate the council, as it means it is the beginning of wanting to work with organisations and local groups. Let's make the most of it."The meeting took on a different format from the usual grilling of councillors by the public which is expected at the annual meeting each year.


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