After a long delay, the Council cabinet decided on 21st June, the longest day, to refuse formal recognition of the Forum. At the same time, the mayor acknowledged his personal disappointment at the lack of diversity among Aspire councillors, particularly the absence of women. The mayor and several members of his Cabinet said they could not accept our application as the Forum membership and committee lacked involvement by Bangladeshi and other South Asian people. A unanimous decision followed to refuse our application. This is despite Council officers in the Plan Making Team having recommended acceptance in their report (item 6.2).
After rejecting our application, the mayor offered an olive branch, saying his Council was willing to help the Forum address the issue of representation.
Neighbourhood planning regulations require the Council to publish a ‘refusal statement’ on its website giving reasons for its decision. The Council’s record of decisions of the 21st June cabinet meeting includes the following:
‘The Mayor in Cabinet was not assured that the membership of the forum included representatives from different sections of the community in the area and thus refused the application for redesignation.
Alternative options The alternative option was to support the redesignation of the Roman Road Bow Neighbourhood Forum as the designated neighbourhood forum for the Roman Road Bow Neighbourhood Planning Area. This was the officers’ recommended decision and the reasons for this are as set out in the report submitted.’
In the meantime, the Forum will step up its efforts to involve people from more diverse backgrounds. We don’t want to be defensive about this challenge, while recognising that planning issues are often complex and require time and perseverance, making it much harder for many to get involved on top of the demands of daily life and the current cost-of-living crisis. The Forum welcomes and would benefit from an increase in diversity, and can provide a supportive setting for anyone new to planning to explore and find out more – we are all learners!
The Forum will continue functioning in accordance with our constitution while working with Council officers and Bow councillors to find a way through the present roadblock.
We ask for your help to encourage members of Bangladeshi and other minority ethnic groups in Bow to join the Forum by completing the short form on our website. We would be delighted if some would consider joining the committee at our Annual General Meeting on 15th July. The committee meets 6 times a year in the evening, alternately in person and online.
The Forum will contact local organisations with Bangladeshi and South Asian members, such as local mosques, schools, and business owners over the coming weeks to publicise the Forum and invite their participation.
Annual General Meeting at 12 noon (ending by 1pm) on Saturday, 15th July at Bow Idea Store (Lab 3) in Gladstone Place E3 (opposite Tesco’s).
Please share this newsletter with others and support the Forum by attending. Reports will be given on the past year’s activities and finances, and the Forum committee will be elected.
Forum membership: Romanroadbowneighbourhoodplan.org
Interested in joining the committee? : Please send a short email saying, ‘I’m interested in finding out more about the Forum committee’ to: email@example.com