The Tivy Side reports fairly in today's paper and on its website here, on a public meeting that I organised and chaired last Thursday between housing association Tai Ceredigion and local residents regarding a potential development of 6 single bedroom flats in the Maes-Yr-Haf area of town.
As the article states, it was an angry meeting that faced senior officers of Tai Ceredigion last week in the Bethania Chapel vestry here in town. It dealt with the twin issues of the plans to build these 6 flats and also Tai Ceredigion's closure of a well used local path adjacent to the development site just days earlier, despite my protestations to them to leave it open until the meeting at the very least so that they could hear the views of local residents on the matter.
In my 7+ years as a Councillor, it was one of the most challenging meetings that I have had to chair because of the understandable frustrations that were felt by residents who disagreed with Tai Ceredigion's concept of consultation on both of these issues. Anger was expressed at the lack of consultation in general and also, some of those who had had discussions on the issue of the footpath closure refuted the statements that Tai Ceredigion stated that they had made. I therefore organised Thursday's meeting to give the community an opportunity to air its feelings and it did so without hesitation. There was no point having a short half hour meeting so instead we went on for two hours. I hope that I gave everyone ample opportunity to have their say during that time to those making the decisions.
Today's Tivy Side editorial dealt with the twin issues covered in the meeting and concluded with this statement:
"Communication is more about listening than it is about talking. Tai Ceredigion is very good at putting out its spin in smart press releases throught its consultant PR company, particularly about how much it 'consults' with people. But it is engagement with the community and listening to their views that really counts. That's real, effective public relations".The community are gathering together to launch a potential legal challenge to the closure of the footpath.
In the meantime, the planning application for the adjacent build is being submitted this week and the community will have 21 days to respond with its views to Neuadd Cyngor Ceredigion, Planning Department, Penmorfa, Aberaeron, Ceredigion, UK, SA46 0PA. I'll be writing a letter to the Tivy Side later this week with the details once I know the application number.