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Gorleston community group goes it alone

PUBLISHED: 11:03 19 June 2010 | UPDATED: 18:04 30 June 2010

DEFIANT Gorleston councillors and residents vowed to make their meetings all the more inclusive, with or without the borough council.

The Gorleston Area Scrutiny Committee met for the first time after it and the Yarmouth Area Scrutiny Committee were officially abolished as part of the Tory-controlled council's planned £1m cuts.

DEFIANT Gorleston councillors and residents vowed to make their meetings all the more inclusive, with or without the borough council.

The Gorleston Area Scrutiny Committee met for the first time after it and the Yarmouth Area Scrutiny Committee were officially abolished as part of the Tory-controlled council's planned £1m cuts.

But on Monday night there was a determination to protect the area from over development and anger at an email circulated around the council suggesting officers stay away.

Newly elected chairman Colleen Walker, said she couldn't understand the council's decision to cut its ties, so the Labour group of councillors had decided to go it alone.

Mrs Walker said: “We want to prove them wrong. No matter how small or what the issues are, it's important that people are here to raise them and someone is here to listen. It's kind of suck-it-and-see for us.”

In a public question session that lasted 40 minutes - twice the original time allocated - among the issues discussed were:

Disabled parking on yellow lines along Baker Street and near Morrisons supermarket.

The introduction of a rollerblading and cycle lane to the promenade.

Anger over the state of South Pier car park, which is owned by EastPort and currently lies unused.

And following on from the wide-ranging discussions, committee vice chairman Mr Williamson offered suggestions too for protecting the character of the area against overdevelopment with a planning brief to general approval.

Speaking amid concerns voiced about the development of local sites such as the former Cap and Gown pub, he talked of feeding in new requirements specific to Gorleston into the planning process.

Included in the list were an increased focus on the role of the conservation area, as well as better restrictions on development size as well as further infrastructure requirements and an increased number of children's play areas.

The meeting then ended with the creation of a working party to specifically address the issue of parking on grass verges, with Trevor Wainwright suggesting that a new government initiative - named Councillors Call for Action - could help them pursue the issue.

Afterwards, the sole attending Conservative councillor Patricia Page said that, because of frequent low turnout, she agreed with the borough council's decision to scrap the meetings, but added: “I am here attending as a ward councillor no matter what. We will have to see how these things develop. They may go more along the lines of a parish council meeting.”

A spokeswoman for the borough council said that its executive management team had agreed officers should not attend the meetings and “that message has subsequently been fed through to staff.”

The next meeting, of which there are planned to be four per year, will take place in September, and revised times will see it go ahead at 6pm in the summer and 7pm in the winter.

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