Council launches new community panels

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A PROMISE to put people at the heart of decision making will be supported by the creation of eight Community Panels.

Cumberland Council leaders voted overwhelmingly in support of the proposals which will see the Community Panels decide on the priorities for their area and offer grants accordingly.

Each Community Panel will be supported by a Network Panel made up of partners, residents, businesses and third sector organisations. They will help shape and guide the panel’s investment plan.

Councillor Lisa Brown, Deputy Leader for Cumberland Council who has led on the work, said: "This is us leaving our first mark as Cumberland Council and it has been a real honour working on them.

"The community panels are what will make Cumberland different to anything that has gone before. And we are starting these with an open mind, we made a commitment to makes changes within our Cumberland Plan.

"We want to tackle entrenched issues. We want the community to know that they can come to us with their issues and we will listen to them. We will act. Life expectancy from birth in Cumberland is below the national average and we just cannot accept that.

"This change will take time, but we are fully committed to make these panels work, this is localism in action."

The panels will have some funding and will be made up of the councillors from the Wards within a particular area.

The role of the Community Panels is to encourage community engagement and local decision making. Each panel will work with the community to develop a plan which can have sections bespoke to the communities within that particular area.

Leader, Cllr Mark Fryer, added: “Our vision would be to eventually devolve more powers, and more spending powers, to these panels.

“I am proud of the work Lisa and officers have done on this, to do something new and realise our pledge to make changes in Cumberland.

“It is not often you get the chance to start a fresh, to try something new. If something does not work, then we will change it. I am really excited to see them get up and running and hear the ideas that come from them.”