Merger of South Glos public groups planned to save money

February 28 2016

TWO public involvement groups which give people in South Gloucestershire the chance to raise matters and concerns are planned to merge.

TWO public involvement groups which give people in South Gloucestershire the chance to raise matters and concerns are planned to merge.
Area forums and Safer Stronger groups currently meet separately around the district on a number of occasions during the year.
There are area forums for five different parts of South Gloucestershire, while 20 original Safer Stronger groups are already down to 14. All are open to residents who can question people such as councillors, the police, health representatives and members of the fire brigade on topics local to their community.
But South Gloucestershire Council’s ruling Conservatives said there was a level of duplication and merging the groups would contribute to the £36 million of savings that had to be made.
It is proposed to call the new organisations community engagement groups and they will operate as the 14 Safer Stronger groups, with the police in attendance.
Council leader Matthew Riddle said: “We want to maximise the amount we spend on frontline services and one of the best ways of doing this is cutting out duplication.
“Having area forums and Safer Stronger groups effectively doing the same job, we’re making a saving and redirecting that money somewhere more useful.”
There are also plans to reduce the number of council committees through mergers.
Councillor Riddle said: “Around half of reports that currently come to committee are ‘to note’, meaning they do not require any formal decisions to be made. They are only there to be read.
“I think this is unnecessarily wasteful of our time and public resources. We should set an example and tighten our own belts at the same time as tightening spending elsewhere.”
Ahead of changes, the Frome Vale Area Forum, which covers Chipping Sodbury, Yate, Dodington, Frampton Cotterell, Ladden Brook and Westerleigh, takes place on Thursday, March 3, at 7pm in Chipping Sodbury Baptist Church, High Street.
The Southern Brooks Area Forum, which takes in Winterbourne, is at 7pm on Tuesday, March 8, at Patchway Community College, Hempton Lane.
On the agenda will be priorities for the local transport capital programme, the allocation of various grants and an update on community health care service changes.
The Frome Vale meeting will also hear from Network Rail about forthcoming work at Dodington Road, Chipping Sodbury.