Haverhill Town Council tells ONE Haverhill to make meetings public - or we quit

Alaric Pugh ANL-140828-111432001
Alaric Pugh ANL-140828-111432001

ONE Haverhill has responded to a threat by Haverhill Town Council to withdraw from the partnership unless its board meetings are made public by saying it will review how it works with its partners.

The fact that ONE Haverhill, which works to change the things that need changing in the town by bringing a wide range of private and public sector partners and their budgets together, holds the meetings in private has been a bone of contention with the town council for some time.

On September 17 both Inspector Peter Ferrie and borough, county and town councillor Tony Brown resigned from the board after its members voted against opening up its meetings to the public.

The situation came to a head this week when the full town council passed a motion on Tuesday agreeing to withdraw from ONE Haverhill and cease offering its admin support unless the board holds open meetings.

In response to this, ONE Haverhill vice-chairman, St Edmundsbury Borough councillor Alaric Pugh said: “As I have recently stated, ONE Haverhill is a delivery partnership focused on projects for all of Haverhill – if it didn’t exist it would have to be invented.”

“Much has been achieved and we have travelled a long way from where we started.

“Our focus on changing what the community tells us is important is now even more critical and the way we operate must flow from that.

“Form has to follow function. It is important that we get this right and proposals are currently coming forward from a number of quarters following a recent workshop.

“Discussions will continue and I’m sure the partnership will end up even better able to deliver for Haverhill.”

Members of the board include all three tiers of local government, the business sector, education, police, health, voluntary sector, Havebury Housing, Abbeycroft Leisure and the faith community.

The town council wants ONE Haverhill to hold its next four consecutive board meetings in public (excluding personnel or commercially sensitive matters) before voting at the fifth meeting whether to make the trial period permanent.

The council also wants it renamed the ONE Haverhill Partnership, to have its chairman changed every 12 months, increase public health and town council representation on the board, and respond to public Freedom of Information requests in an ‘honest and open manner.’

Cllr Pugh added: “It is important that we recognise the role of the partners both collectively and individually, because this is all about partnership working – how we come together to make the right changes.

“It is crucial that everyone has confidence in one another and in our common purpose.

“Speaking as a Borough Council cabinet member, St Edmundsbury wants to continue to be part of a strong and successful partnership and we continue to work with all partners to this end because what we are really focused on is delivery.”