A VOLUNTARY body set up more than a decade ago to represent the views of older people in South Tyneside has folded amid sadness and accusations.
Forum 50 – the Older People’s Parliament – was originally established with the support of South Tyneside Council.
The aim was for its board members to advise the local authority on matters of particular concern to people aged over 50 in the borough.
At the non-political forum’s final meeting in the Sea Hotel, South Shields, members expressed sadness at its demise.
But it was revealed the relationship with the council has deteriorated over recent years – amid claims the authority had “refused to listen” to the concerns and suggestions the forum raised. Forum 50 was wound up as a result of a number of retirements by members of its management committee, with no requests by board members to replace them.
As a result, under the rules of the constitution, the forum has ceased to exist.
Ex-chairman Greenwell Jewitt said: “I understand the board’s decision. I stood down as chairman last year because I didn’t think Forum 50 was making progress with the council.
“For example, a petition by the forum, which was signed by 3,700 people, called on the council to only have two councillors per ward.
“Forum members spent a lot of time going around the freezing, cold streets, knocking on doors with that petition.
“People came up to me, complete strangers, saying ‘I’ll sign your petition, it’s a very good idea’.”
Former Progressive councillor Mr Jewitt added: “I personally feel that councillors would not talk to me because of my previous political life from donkeys’ years ago.
“That’s why I stood down – to give the forum a chance.
“This is a very sad time for this to happen, but we have not had the support of the controlling council.
“We came up with loads of ideas, like making South Tyneside streets non-alcohol zones.
“That went to the council. What happened? Nothing.
“Where did the petition on reducing councillors go? The council took no notice whatsoever.”
South Tyneside Council declined to comment.
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