I welcome proposals to extend the membership of the Town Forum.

Kettering Council’s Town Forum is a non-decision making group made up of both Borough and County Councillors who represent areas within Kettering town, along with representatives from local organisations and civic groups. They discuss matters affecting the town such as policing, town centre events etc. and have the opportunity to pass comments or ideas to the Council’s Executive Committee.

I have been a member since it was set up in 1999 and over the years have seen a lot of changes. Many years ago it was a vibrant and important group with active members from across the community. Important matters were discussed and its voice was listened to and influential.

In my opinion however, over recent years the group’s membership has dwindled and it has become nothing more than another ‘talking shop’ for Councillors, where we are simply briefed by the Council’s officers about things that the Council are doing.

This week however there was a report suggesting the amalgamation of the Town Centre Taskforce Group. This group is made up of the police, the fire service, and members of the town centre business community and was originally set up to look at specific town centre projects and has achieved some success in the past, so while they are not currently working on any particular project it was felt a good move to invite them to join the Town Forum.

I spoke in favour of this as the need to revitalise the Forum is something I’ve raised time and time again, and I also suggested that this would be a good opportunity to increase the membership even further and invite other business leaders and representatives from the voluntary sector and local charities. I would like to get back to the time when the Forum was a genuine voice of the community for Councillors to listen to rather than the other way round.

The Forum meets at 7pm on Monday nights every three months and if if you represent a local group or organisation and you would like to have a seat at the table and contribute your views about local town centre issues, or just to find out more about the things that are going on that affect our town, send me an email and I’ll happily forward it on for your membership to be considered. I can be reached by e-mail at mscrimshaw@kettering.gov.uk.