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Thetford board under fire for lack of publicity as one member of public comes to meeting

PUBLISHED: 10:40 19 April 2016 | UPDATED: 13:13 19 April 2016

Rob Walker, Breckland Council Assistant Director for Community

Rob Walker, Breckland Council Assistant Director for Community

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A board previously criticised for a lack of transparency is under fire again after a lack of publicity for its latest meeting saw just one member of the public turn up.

GTDP seeks sub-group members

The Greater Thetford Development Partnership board is seeking applications from local people to join four sub-groups.

Rob Walker, Breckland Council’s executive director of place, said: “I am pleased to confirm that, on behalf of the partnership, we are now looking to recruit four Community Representatives to sit on the GTDP Community Sub-Group.

“People who take on this role will need to listen to the views of local communities and then raise these for discussion at our sub-group meetings.

“After talking through the points raised by local people, the sub-group will then feedback to the wider GTDP Board to inform their discussions. This will give people a strong voice in shaping the growth of the greater Thetford area.”

Candidates must be 16 or over, live or work within the parishes of Thetford, Croxton, Brettenham or Kilverstone and/or be an active member of a group in one of these areas. Applications close at midday on May 6.

For more, go to www.breckland.gov.uk/partnershipvacancies

The remaining meeting dates of the full GTDP board for 2016 are:

• June 24 - 10am to 12pm, open forum 12.30pm to 1.30pm

• August 19 - 10am to 12pm

• October 21 - 10am to 12pm

• December 16 - 10am to 12pm

The Greater Thetford Development Partnership (GTDP) was set up to steer the town’s development over the next 20 years.

Having initially been held behind closed doors, its meetings were made public in December, with the two being held since attracting around eight to ten people each time.

However, its latest meeting, held at The Bell on Thursday, saw just one member of the public turn up.

While Breckland Council, who facilitate the board, have set up a micro website which includes meeting dates, its own calendar did not list the meeting. Links to a GTDP page on its own site also did not list the meeting. The date was also not publicised on the council’s social media channels or sent to the press.

Breckland has since amended the websites to include the dates following an enquiry from this paper.

Jake Shannon, a resident who has attended prior meetings, said finding out about them was too difficult.

“I looked at the website, which previously listed dates, and it was blank. On Google it didn’t find ‘GTDP’, or even on their own site.

“Considering it’s a public board which is steering big decisions for the town, people should be made aware,” he said.

Terry Jermy, vice chairman of the board, admitted it needed to be better publicised.

“We need to get Thetford people more engaged with the process. They need to be involved and we haven’t done that enough to date,” he said.

Rob Walker, Breckland Council executive director of place, said the authority was “fully committed” to the board: “The council has volunteered to host key GTDP information on its website, including the dates and papers for GTDP meetings, and details of meeting dates through until the end of 2016 have been published online for sometime.

“However, we want to make it as easy as possible for people to get involved and to attend future meetings, so we will be making this information more accessible across the website going forward.”

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