The potential scrapping of the Haverhill Area Working Party (HAWP) formed some years ago by the borough council has been contested by Haverhill Town Council, which sees it as an asset not to be lost.
Town councillors agreed to formally object to any notion that HAWP would be ditched after a review of area working parties being carried out by the borough council.
The borough council leader, Cllr John Griffiths, outlined the reasons for the review in a letter to the town council and asked for its views on possible alternatives, such as building on the existing arrangements of the ONE Haverhill partnership.
At last Tuesday’s (29) full town council meeting, members voted to object to HAWP being disbanded.
Addressing the possibility of building upon existing arrangements of ONE Haverhill, the town council response said: “ONE Haverhill is not an appropriate alternative - currently it is not even meeting in public.
“It should only be interested in adding value to the programmes of public bodies at an operational level by looking for common strands within the work of public, private and not-for-profit sectors and building on potential win-win scenarios.
“A good example is that the borough made a policy decision to create a Town Centre Masterplan.
“The operational delivery of the consultation stage was enhanced by the involvement of ONE Haverhill partners.
“By contrast HAWP is a public forum for discussing policy level local authority strategy as it impacts on a significant population - it isn’t designed to be a delivery agent.”
The response also points out that HAWP meetings were too expensive because they were led by borough council officers and that not enough items of substance were added to agenda.
Cllr Griffiths had stated in his letter that HAWP had made only three recommendations to cabinet from its previous 11 meetings - held every three months.
The town council’s response went on to say: “This is also about the agenda - town council representatives on HAWP do not recall any failure to form a recommendation and can see no examples in the minutes.
“We think that there were just very few requests for a recommendation.
“Particularly the last few agendas appear to have been mostly verbal updates from officers.”
It was also pointed out that HAWP has not met since the last election, giving new councillors no chance to form an opinion of what it does.
“The town council believes HAWP should be given a chance to operate for a trial period.
“Once the current councillors have formed their opinion, let the questions be asked again.”
At the town council meeting, Cllr Maureen Byrne said: “I used to sit on HAWP and I used to tear my hair out because there was nothing really solid or substantive that used to be decided about our town.
“It was all officers giving reports. It was all top heavy.
“I think if the constitution of it can be amended it could be useful.
“I would be loathe for it to be disbanded because if we get it right it can be an absolute benefit for the town.”
Cllr David Roach added: “I think we need to keep it. Whether it’s the same vehicle or constitution we need to have that debate but to kill it off the vehicle for change, that seems to me to be a really silly thing to do.”