Town and community councils “should consider mergers” as Bridgend Council seeks to reboot relationship

(Title Image: Gill Garrett)

Bridgend Council’s Town & Community Forum isn’t exactly the most high-profile of council committees and – according to a report due to be discussed later this week (pdf) – is:

“….often ineffective, characterised by relatively poor attendance and engagement, a limited number of relevant agenda items being brought forward, and seemingly either apathy or occasionally animosity towards attempts to use the forum as a means to improve engagement and working relationships between TCC’s and BCBC.”

The Welsh Government is paving the way for town and community councils to play a bigger role, so BCBC are considering ways to create a “more meaningful and effective” way to work with the county’s 20 town and community councils.

The report lists the actions BCBC and the town and community councils can take to improve things.

From BCBC’s perspective, they’re considering more dedicated support for community councils to enable them to take on more services and assets and also to generally improve engagement and mutual understanding.

For the town and community councils, BCBC says they’ll have to recognise that their role will be different in the future, meaning they should consider merging or federating. Also, they should play a more active role in coordinating with local organisations.

BCBC propose replacing the Forum with a Partnership Board made up of one representative from each town and community council, a BCBC Cabinet Member and officers. The Community Asset Transfer Officer’s role will be extended to work more closely with community councils.

The Partnership Board would set clear year-on-year goals, while the report suggests contracts could be agreed between individual town and community councils and BCBC setting out their responsibilities, funding and mutual assistance.

One potential point of concern is the Board would no longer be a public committee – though minutes would likely still be published.

If the Forum agrees, the new Partnership Board could be set up sometime in the 2020-21 financial year.

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