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Haringey to axe Area Committee meetings

PUBLISHED: 18:26 15 May 2015 | UPDATED: 18:26 15 May 2015

Haringey Civic Centre in Wood Green. Picture: Lewis Whyld/PA Archive

Haringey Civic Centre in Wood Green. Picture: Lewis Whyld/PA Archive

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Concerns have been raised after Haringey Council revealed plans to scrap public meetings across the borough.

Haringey’s Standards Committee voted at a meeting on Tuesday to abolish Area Committees and Forums in favour of introducing new individual ward budgets.

Haringey’s Liberal Democrat councillors have voiced objections to the plans to abolish the public meetings, which are held across the borough and give residents the opportunity to discuss issues and question council staff, and criticised a lack of public consultation over the decision.

The meetings are typically very well attended, particularly in the Muswell Hill, Fortis Green, Highgate and Alexandra wards, and were only created a few years having replaced neighbourhood assemblies.

Martin Newton, Lib Dem councillor for Fortis Green and Area Committee Chair, said: “We are very concerned at Labour’s cavalier approach to this.

“There doesn’t seem to have been any attempt to ask residents what they want and whether they feel the public meetings need improving.”

But Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West welcomed the new system, as she said it had the potetial to save money in the context of increasingly tight budgets.

She said: “In the past it has cost £15,000 just to order the PA equipment. I think it is actually a good decision.”

A Haringey Council spokeswoman said: “We have been clear that we want to work more closely with local people to deliver change and better services, and improving the way we engage with residents, partners and businesses is a crucial part of this approach.

“Area Committees have not always been the most effective way of doing that and instead we want to find better ways of talking to and involving people.

“As part of this change, we are intending to launch ward budgets in the summer, which will give people a say about how money is spent on local community projects.”

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