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Ward meeting to be re-introduced in Newport

WARD meetings are to be re-introduced to better involve residents in Newport City Council’s democratic processes.

Three meetings a year will be held, one of which will be solely focused on the budget, with another on the council’s performance. The third meeting will have a flexible agenda and won’t have senior officers present, due to resources.

Originally two meetings a year were proposed, but this was criticised by the democratic services committee as being too restrictive.

At a full council meeting on Tuesday, April 25, council leader Jane Mudd said residents can choose the points of discussion at the third meeting.

Cllr Mudd, who represents Malpas, added: “The community can help to set an agenda that provides a platform to discuss what matters in their own community.”

The ward meetings policy is part of the council’s participation strategy and the report states the meetings aim to establish a consistent approach to engaging with communities across Newport.

Head of democratic services, Leanne Rowlands, has previously confirmed that the policy will not replace surgeries or local networks.

Conservative group leader Cllr Matthew Evans supported the policy and it was unanimously approved by members.

A venue for the meetings will be organised by the council. Due to many being held in community centres, online access is not to be expected.

At a democratic services committee meeting on Friday, January 27, Labour councillor Hourahine raised concerns about a potential issue between councillors of different parties – who represent the same ward – having to agree to the meeting.

Cllr Hourahine’s ward of St Julians is represented by two Labour councillors and one Liberal Democrat.

Conservative councillor David Fouweather, who represents Allt-yr-yn, said: “I think most of us will agree to just get on with it.”

Cllr Trevor Watkins, who represents Tredegar Park and Marshfield, said: “There should be a police officer present for security reasons, because of issues that have arisen in the past.”

Cllr Kate Thomas, who represents Stow Hill, said: “We should recognise these are opportunities for our stakeholders and partners to have an input as well.”