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Town forum cancellations create 'democratic deficit' election candidate says

Concerns about a forum used to discuss issues in Maidenhead have been raised by a candidate in the upcoming elections.

Andrew Hill, who is standing for The Borough First in Boyn Hill, voiced his worries about how few times the Maidenhead Town Forum has met on Twitter and told the Advertiser it could create a ‘democratic deficit’.

The forum meets to discuss and receive updates on the town’s issues, with topics like regeneration and the town centre cropping up in past agendas.

Since February 2016, the forum, which includes councillors and appears on Royal Borough meeting diaries, has met just three times when it was scheduled 13 times.

It was postponed six times and cancelled four times.

Mr Hill said that ‘the Maidenhead Town Forum is the opportunity for people in Maidenhead to meet and discuss important issues that affect the town’.

“Without those forums it is not obvious how we residents can discuss problems that affect just those areas with our elected representatives,” he said.

“There is definitely a democratic deficit.”

He compared the situation to areas with parish councils, which have some say in planning applications and can spend money on their areas, which are usually small towns, villages or districts.

There are six wards in Maidenhead without a parish council. A neighbourhood planning forum is being set up separately from the Maidenhead Town Forum to put together a document that will give more control over developments in those parts.

“The people of Maidenhead ought to have a forum and the people of Windsor ought to have a forum where they can go and talk to their elected representatives in that area about significant issues affecting them,” Mr Hill said.

The panel’s chairman, Cllr Philip Love (Con, Belmont) could not be reached for comment this week.

But council leader Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside), whose cabinet portfolio includes Maidenhead, said: “The town forum is very important to me.”

He said it was important to have given the changes in Maidenhead’s regeneration and pledged that it will be meeting if he is still council leader on May 3.

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