Last night I chaired the Rugby branch meeting of the Warwickshire and West Midlands Association of Local Councils (WALC) in Easenhall. This is the quarterly meeting of all of the parish councils in the Rugby borough area where we discuss recent developments and shared matters of interest.
There is always an invited speaker who gives a presentation on a topic of interest to parish councils, and last night John Cowley, Play Development Officer from Rugby Borough Council attended to talk about the work of the Rugby Play Partnership over the last few years. The Play Partnership is a forum for local residents (including children) to meet with the borough council and other interested bodies to share ideas and give feedback on play facilities within the borough.
John Cowley spoke at length about the objectives of the borough's Play Strategy and the progress made during the last few years with the delivery of its objectives. It would be fair to say that the focus of the Rugby Play Partnership has been more urban based so far, although it was now intended to expand the work to include more of the rural parts of the borough, something that would be done by working closely with parish councils in mapping the existing play facilities within villages and identifying where there were gaps in provision. As now seems to be the trend though, there were concerns that funding cuts may require the ambitions of the Play Strategy to be scaled back somewhat.
The WALC Rugby branch is fortunate to have Councillor Chris Hartny-Mills from Pailton Parish Council as its representative on the Rugby Play Partnership. Chris is committed to improving the play facilties available for young people in the borough and will lead on the project to identify the facilties that currently exist in the rural area in order that funding can be targeted where it is most needed.
Elseware on the agenda, we received updates from other councillors who represent the branch on outside bodies and groups, including the Cement Community Engagement Group (which meets to address environmental concerns arising from the Cemex cement plant in Rugby) and the latest business discussed by the Rugby Local Strategic Partnership.
The next branch meeting is scheduled for the end of April, when it is hoped that an officer from Warwickshire County Council will be in attendance to talk about youth services in the county (and another area that has been hit very hard by recent budget cuts).
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