‘We don’t know what community wants’

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SKEGNESS Town Council doesn’t know the wishes of the community it serves, the town’s Mayor has claimed.

Coun Mark Anderson made the damning accusation at Wednesday’s business and resources committee meeting during which the council’s annual governance and performance monitoring report was discussed.

Although councillors were generally encouraged by the report, which revealed no major failings and a number of improvements in the way the council conducts its business, several of the committee’s members, including the Mayor, felt there was still much to be done.

Coun Anderson said: “I’m concerned about where we are going - how are we going to show leadership in our community in regenerating Skegness, if we don’ know how to set objectives.

“None of us know the wishes of our residents - we are not consulting with our community and without that will just be on a plateau, standing still and not moving forward.”

Committee chairman Coun Jim Carpenter referred to the member’s surgeries as opportunities to consult with the community and Coun Dick Edgington felt he achieved this by ‘walking through my ward like a nomad to get a feel for what the concerns are.’

However, Coun Edginton acknowledged that those concerns were often very different to how councillors perceived them and felt ‘that divide needs to be closed.’

Coun Anderson was not convinced that member’s surgeries were adequate for addressing the ‘bigger vision for where this town wants to be in the future’ and called for some ‘inspiration’.

Coun Neil Cooper, who agreed with the Mayor, found a total of 16 areas, which he felt required attention and believed councillors should become more ‘proactive’ in scrutinising the officers’ work.

Areas of concern highlighted in the 16-page draft report included a ‘lack of knowledge of how to set priorities and identify risks resulting in a lack of clarity, direction and appropriate allocation of resources ‘and a ‘lack of preparation on subjects requiring influence.’

However, as the report was generally a positive document, Coun Cooper felt individual areas should be focused on for improvement rather than rewriting the whole document, which, in his opinion, would be a waste of time.

Despite the areas of concern, councillors praised the town clerk Steve Larner for creating the report, which Coun George Saxon felt had put the council ‘miles ahead of where we were 18 months ago’.