Government minister praises Dudley People's Panel

Baroness Barran with members of the Dudley People's Panel, Councillor Nicolas Barlow and Dudley Council officers who assisted with the project.

A Government minister has visited Dudley to find out more about a ground-breaking project giving borough residents a say in future plans for town centres.

Baroness Barran, a minister in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), met five members of the People’s Panel at Dudley Council House.

The minister was keen to find out more about the Innovation in Democracy pilot project, of which Dudley Council was one of just three authorities in the country to take part.

Dudley People’s Panel, made up of 42 borough residents, was independently designed and facilitated with the support of The Democratic Society. It met to discuss what communities and the council could do to make Dudley and Brierley Hill town centres vibrant, welcoming and places residents could be proud of.

The findings from the panel were published last month, and will be discussed in January by members of Dudley Council’s place scrutiny committee before being considered by the ruling cabinet in February. Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said:

“We were delighted to welcome the Minister to Dudley and share the positive story of the first ever Dudley People’s Panel.

“We feel very proud to be one of only three authorities in the country to be chosen for the pilot project, which gives members of the public more say over decisions that affect them and their communities.

“As a council we will use the information provided by the People’s Panel to help us decide what further we can do in the short, medium and long-term to make the borough’s town centres vibrant and welcoming.

“I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank everyone who gave up their time and took part, it’s been a really valuable exercise for everyone involved.”

Minister for Civil Society, Baroness Barran, added:

“We want people to have influence over decisions that affect their community.

“That’s why we invested over £500,000 supporting three councils to involve citizens in local decision making.

“I enjoyed meeting the local people, councillors and officers who took part in the citizens’ assembly in Dudley.

”It was encouraging to hear how valuable they found the experience and I look forward to seeing the positive impact on the town centre in the near future.”

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