New forum stirs heated debate

Stephen Calder.
Stephen Calder.

The possibility of setting up a Community Forum generated heated debate at a recent meeting of Peterhead Community Council.

Christine Webster - who is an Aberdeenshire Council officer - attended the meeting to speak to community councillors about the opportunities which could be brought about by such a group.

Ms Webster told the meeting that a community forum could help to bring community groups together to share ideas and help identify those who might be interested in supporting local projects, adding that the council had held discussions with Peterhead Projects about pursuing such a group.

The council officer also said a Community Events Fund could be set up in tandem with the group and that an internet facility could bolster its work.

Community councillor Stephen Calder questioned Ms Webster as to why Peterhead Projects should take a prominent role in the setting up of such a group.

Buchan area manager Chris White - who also attended the meeting - added that the council had no steer on this matter and that the community council has a statutory role to be consulted on the issue.

Community council chairman John Brownlee said he was keen to see the issue pushed further up the local community’s agenda, while Bruce Buchan raised concerns about what would happen if a community forum generated limited interest from the public.

Stephen Calder then asked why a residents forum had not been raised during the course of meeting, given that the town has both a Business Forum and a Retail Forum.

A heated debate ensued between Mr Calder and the other community councillors on the issue, resulting Mr Brownlee closing proceedings for five minutes to restore calm to the meeting.

Following the brief recess, Mr Calder again reiterated his desire to inaugurate a Residents Forum during the meeting.

However, it was instead agreed to leave the community forum issue until next month’s meeting to allow a brief to be put forward.

The council officers who were present also said they would send the community council details of the community forum in Banff to share ideas.