The Future of Lichfield District Parish Forum and its Effectiveness
(Verbal Report by Ms Christie Tims – Head of Corporate Services)
The Chairman asked if members wished the current format of the Lichfield District Parish Forum to continue as it was noted that the attendance had been very successful again tonight, similar to the previous meeting. There was a unanimous agreement for the forum to continue as it was felt to be very beneficial to all and for anyone who wanted to come and speak as well i.e. Cabinet Members, Police, Officers and Trainers.
Ms Tims said that because much of the information could now be electronically disseminated she queried if the district council could communicate messages through to the parishes either via e-bulletins or newsletters intermittently or emails to clerks so the information sharing was immediate and then suggested a AGM annually. She asked members what the value of these meetings gave to the residents of Lichfield as a whole as it was very hard to get the timings right for the meetings with the relevant information because the purpose of this forum was for the distribution of information into the parishes and having to wait for a meeting sometimes meant deadlines were not met. It was agreed that regular communications would be useful and the use of e-bulletins and newsletters would be an idea for information sharing but the interaction at the forum meetings was favoured.
A Parish Clerk in attendance said he would prefer no more email communications as already received enough and he definitely preferred the Lichfield District Parish Forum meetings. Discussions took place around the effectiveness and it was agreed that the agenda was key and the purpose of the meetings was paramount. It was hoped that this forum could continue with the face to face interaction otherwise it was felt there was a danger of us becoming a society on-line which is very insular and could mean no one would share their visions which would be bad news at both parish and district level. It was suggested that the agenda did also depend on what is going on at district level and what the plans for the future are which needed to be communicated down to the parish level as the last couple of meetings had had a clear vision and relevant topics. It was proposed that perhaps a couple of meetings per year would be an option but the purpose needed to be identified and valid. Therefore, it was recommended that a meeting should take place as long as it had purpose and this would be left to the officers at district level to decide. Ms Tims appealed for future topics to be communicated to either her, the Chairman or the clerk as often there was a lack of items coming forward. She said she would be hosting a Code of Conduct training event next year and everyone supported this. She was asked if the district level training could incorporate the parishes too as it was felt to be very beneficial as many had found the last planning training session useful in understanding the terminology used.
(It was noted that the Staffordshire Parish Councils’ Association will also provide Parish Council Training).