Meeting with Droitwich Spa Town Council 8 April 2019
Mike Lambden, Rhys Jones and Peter Hawkins (of the Droitwich Spa Neighbourhood Plan Working Group, DSNPWG) met with Councillor Alex Sinton, leader of the Droitwich Spa Town Council (DSTC), Councillor Alan Humphries and Mark Keld, clerk to the DSTC.
Notes of the meeting
The meeting followed a draft agenda provided by Mike Lambden. Whilst recognising that the Droitwich Spa Town Council is in purdah pending the results of the May elections, the following decisions were agreed in principle:
1. A commitment was made to a meeting once the new council is in place, following the May elections, to review options for planning for Droitwich Spa going forward. (This had been included in the mayor’s report to the Town Meeting held on 18 March).
• Newly elected council members will need to be briefed to understand the value Neighbourhood Plans before a formal decision on the precise arrangements can be decided. Accordingly, this will be included in the agenda of first full meeting of the new council (17th June), at which council members will be encouraged to take an interest and get involved. (Material will be made available to help councillors understand neighbourhood planning.)
• Preparatory actions and meetings will take place after the June meeting and prior to taking a decision on the way forward at the next full council meeting to be held in September.
• These decisions will be included in early communications, to clearly demonstrate that the Droitwich Neighbourhood Plan is not being “kicked into the long grass”.
2. There was a brief discussion of the issues from the past that should be considered going forward. The conclusions were:
• A strong project management approach should be defined and implemented (see footnote) with council member engagement at all levels, in support of which
o stakeholder analysis is required to ensure engagement of all relevant parties
o creation of appropriate structures to drive the project forward
o creation of a high-level plan with appropriate review points (and related reporting) recognising that a detailed plan can only be accurately determined for one stage at a time, the remaining stages being in outline and subject to possible (agreed) change
o a revised constitution for the Neighbourhood Plan development will be prepared jto reflect the results of the above.
• We must ensure open and honest communication between interested parties, focussing on working together (avoiding separation of groups that might give rise to “us and them” attitudes which were seen to be a problem in the past) and ensuring maximum engagement of local people.
o a communications strategy will be agreed including the use websites, social media and local news media
o There will be regular clear communication of progress.
• Local resident resources to be engaged to limit the impact of the work on the Clerk to Droitwich Spa Town Council and his team
3. Although they have different long-term aims it was noted that there may be useful overlap between the Town Masterplan initiative from Wychavon DC and the Neighbourhood Plan development. It was also agreed that work on the SWDP revision and the Neighbourhood plan are not mutually exclusive activities.
4. It was agreed that DSNPWG can approach the DSTC clerk to make use of council meeting space, subject to availability.
5. All agreed that the way forward would be to maintain close dialogue and seek to establish joint activity as soon as possible. In this context, a further meeting will be arranged to drive forward these actions after the elections – perhaps towards the end of May.
The meeting ended with positive comments on the future collaboration and commitment to work together for the benefit of the local community.