New pioneering group aims to boost business and community
A new community body has vowed to fight overdevelopment but boost business and social cohesion after winning the right to officially represent residents.
The East Boldon Neighbourhood Forum plans to be a strong voice of influence after being officially approved and recognised by the South Tyneside Council.
Formed a year ago, it can now formulate a plan to guide development which reflects the wishes of the community and not housebuilders.
Although it cannot stop development, those behind it say its position on items of importance must be carefully heeded by those in power, including the council’s planning committee.
The forum has 91 members, including Labour ward councillors Margaret Meling and David Townsley, and 188 residents have confirmed they want to join.
As well as the East Boldon ward, it has been agreed its sphere of influence will include the Boldon Flats wildlife and wetlands area of Cleadon.
It is the second Neighbourhood Forum to be established in South Tyneside, following one in Whitburn last March.
Coun Meling said the forum had been set up to respond to the Local Review, a study into land that may be built on.
But she added: “We are not to oppose building but to try to influence the type of building, to make sure it is for the benefit of the community and not the developer.
“We have the power to influence but no magic wand, but we will be very protective about environmental issues.
“The forum will also look to support business development – if you can live and work in the same area it alleviates transport and other problems.”
In their application for official recognition, members said they aimed to promote and improve East Boldon’s social, economic and environmental well-being.
They also aim to represent the views of a majority of the population, and support sustainable development that takes account of existing infrastructure and is sensitive to the area.
To progress the forum’s aims, they will invite and receive contributions and raise funds, publicise and promote their work, and work with voluntary bodies and charities.
Council bosses say approval for the forum’s geographical extension was granted after it agreed to renegotiate the boundary should Cleadon residents set up their own body.