I am so pleased to see the working group is in place with terms of reference and a plan for how to proceed.

The town hall meeting at Gosforth Trinity Church highlighted to me just how much residents wanted an opportunity to have their say, and make their voices heard. The image above shows the main themes from the individual feedback forms we received during and after the event. I will be posting a full report of this on my website soon. I will also make that available on this website.

It was a lively meeting and I was delighted so many came and participated, even if at times it was difficult to ensure all voices were heard.  I hope the Bluehouse Group can take forward the enthusiasm and determination to make the city a better place to live for everybody.

It is important that Newcastle City Council listens to the recommendations the group presents, and equally important that the Bluehouse Group are speaking on behalf of the wider communities involved in the consultation. This is an opportunity for people to get involved at the early stages of consultation, the most important time, when it is really possible to have an effect on the outcomes. It would be a great shame if some parts of the community were not represented in this.  I know that there are many different ways of ensuring participation and my office is working with Digital Civics to look at how the web can be used to share thoughts and ideas. I hope the Bluehouse Group can be part of this.

Developing plans for regeneration or change is a complex and multifaceted process, as well as something that needs sensitivity to a range of issues, and I’m sure we can all appreciate that council officers have a difficult job, but that doesn’t mean we should just leave them to it!

It is important that they listen to the views, ideas, and concerns of residents and take this into consideration when making decisions that affect people’s lives in many ways.

For my part, I will follow closely what the group publishes on this website, and do my part to make sure the Council carry out what they said they would do.

Hopefully this is a successful model for consultation that can be replicated throughout the city to hold the council to account on a range of decision-making processes.