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Lost opportunity for openness in Government says Joe Cocker of Leominster
8:30am Sunday 10th June 2012 in Letters
IN MY 13 years in Leominster I have attended most of the annual town meetings, occasionally being one of only three members of the public present.
This seems to me a lost opportunity for openness in local government.
People are free to discuss anything of local interest, but no agenda is ever produced. I have been to town meetings where relatively trivial matters have been raised which could have been dealt with elsewhere. It should be an occasion for raising major issues affecting the town.
At one town meeting there was an interesting talk on the enterprise park, but as it was not advertised there were few people present.
I could not be present this year because of a previous engagement, although had I known I would have given the town meeting priority. I note that it was on the same evening as a Transition Leominster meeting on transport in the community centre.
Other groups of which I am a member decide on the date of next year’s annual meeting a year in advance. If it has to be changed, then so be it.
Why not also advertise the town meeting a month or two in advance and call for topics? The agenda would include reports from the council and topics raised in advance by local people. These might include updates on local projects, contentious planning issues and the like. People, including those new to the town, would then know of issues of potential interest.
The minutes of the open meeting are not published until they have been approved a year later. This is a recipe for burying issues.
I see no reason why draft minutes could not be published within a week of the meeting.
If you are new to the town or did not attend the last meeting, you will not know what was discussed.
Unless someone tells me, I will not know what was discussed at this year’s meeting until May 2013.