9 o’clock sharp at The Sheet this morning for a ‘scoping meeting’. There’s nowhere else to meet, really. They kindly opened specially for us and served tea and coffee (and breakfast for anyone who wanted it). Really, they must be getting used to us by now.
So what was meant by ‘scoping’? The answer to that simple question quickly identified what we really needed to be talking about. What was meant was: ‘How we get to where we want to be.’
But we won’t know where we want to be until we’ve held the Roadshows and heard people’s views about the Neighbourhood Area and how it should develop. And further, in order to get to where we want to be, we really need to know where we are now.
What people tell us at the Roadshows will help to identify the issues that both the questionnaire and the Neighbourhood Plan need to focus on. And once the questionnaire results have been analysed, we’ll know the direction that the Plan should take. That’s the beauty of Neighbourhood Plans: they allow for real, meaningful community consultation and involvement that just isn’t possible at a larger administrative scale.
In the mean time, while Richard and Sue work on creating the questionnaire, there’s plenty of work to be done to establish where we are now. Building up a profile of the Neighbourhood Area will provide us with the answer to that question.
Much of the information that we need really is at our fingertips. A vast amount of statistical information on the population, the local economy, transport and a range of other issues is readily available – although some very necessary statistics are difficult for an amateur to access and we’ll need assistance to obtain them.
A great deal of geographical and policy information is available on the internet, from the Borough website and online government sources.
We’ll need historical background too, to explain how the Neighbourhood and its various settlements developed to their present state, and information about how the Neighbourhood functions on a daily basis.
If the Roadshows spike people’s interest we can expect to get some help with different aspects of the information gathering. It all boils down to a matter of knowing what information is needed and where or how to get it. Then, organising it and putting it together to create a well-rounded portrait of the area.