N. Walsham questions partnership's role

REGENERATION group the Griffon Area Partnership came under fire this week as North Walsham town councillors questioned its powers and lack of accountability.

REGENERATION group the Griffon Area Partnership came under fire this week as North Walsham town councillors questioned its powers and lack of accountability.

Members felt the partnership, which covers North Walsham and surrounding parishes, was trying to sideline the council by not mentioning its involvement in some reports about local initiatives.

There were also fears that Griffon was trying to muscle in on areas of local government responsibility. “Area partnerships are unelected quangos and there is a general feeling of disquiet about them,” said town mayor Brian Wexler.

Peter Moore said partnerships were useful because they could tap into sources of funding, for community projects, which were not open to the council.

But he said parish councils in the area viewed Griffon as democratically unaccountable and not subject to the financial strictures councils were.

“If we step out of line, we are reported to the Standards Committee, but there's no such thing for them,” said Mr Moore, who is also a district and county councillor.

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At one stage the partnership had investigated landscaping part of the Vicarage Street car park, owned by North Norfolk District Council. But the scheme would have taken away disabled parking slots. If partnership chiefs had first phoned NNDC they would have been told to “knock the scheme on the head” and money spent on the study would not have been wasted, said Mr Moore.

Members agreed to make inquiries into the partnership's terms of reference.

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