Sunday, 24 June 2018

Plan axed due to lack of volunteers

THE Benson neighbourhood plan has been abandoned due to a lack of volunteers.

THE Benson neighbourhood plan has been abandoned due to a lack of volunteers.

Parish chairman Jon Fowler, who was leading the project, said it was a missed opportunity but he could see no other way of progressing without support from residents.

He said: “It is very disappointing that we couldn’t see it through but it was a realistic decision based on the volunteers that we had and the volunteers who we were likely to get against the necessary work and the expense.

“It is a great shame because we are going to have less input into where new housing goes and we are going to have less of a say over some of the peripheral things like asking developers to build facilities for the community, such as a skate park.

“The only good thing to come out of it is that we stopped before we spent a huge sum of money on it.”

About 300 people attended the launch of the neighbourhood plan in November but few residents came forward to help.

Councillor Fowler said: “About 14 volunteers came forward and we thought that this would generate some momentum and we’d be able to bring in other people but that has not happened.

“We need fresh blood, new people with the right skills. There was a degree of the same old faces coming forward.

“The time involved in being a parish councillor and being involved with the neighbourhood plan plus, for some of us, working full time is just too much and it is not sustainable.”

Councillor Dave Rushton, who led the plan’s transport sub-team, said the council had underestimated the work involved and the difficulty in encouraging residents to volunteer to help.

“At our last meeting with the district council they made it clear to us that we had to engage more of the public and we couldn’t see how we could do it,” he said.

“We put an advert in the Benson Bulletin and there was no response and we have sat around the table suggesting names but none of those approached agreed to help.”

Benson’s community led plan could also be abandoned due to the lack of support.

Cllr Fowler said: “It is still open to debate but if we don’t get volunteers to help, I don’t see how we could realistically progress it.”

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