A new group bringing together organisations working to transform Bishop Auckland has met for the first time.
The Bishop Auckland Strategic Advisory Panel will have an overview of key developments in the town, with the aim of ensuring community engagement in the agreed programme. It will also ensure residents and businesses are kept up to date on the range of major initiatives that will drive economic growth and provide opportunities.
The panel, which will also provide advice and input into issues affecting the town, has been set up following feedback from communities and local stakeholders.
It is part of a drive to ensure that the exciting regeneration taking place across the town is inclusive and informed by residents and businesses.
The new panel includes elected members from Durham County Council and MP Dehenna Davison along with representatives from a wide range of existing bodies, organisations and voluntary groups. These include The Auckland Project, Bishop Auckland Town Council, the Town Team, Heritage Action Zone, Let’s Clean Up Bishop Auckland, the Brighter Bishop Auckland Partnership and the Stronger Towns Board.
At it’s first meeting, the board agreed to look for opportunities to expand its membership, with the aim of ensuring all groups in the town are fully represented and it is expected that the membership will grow.
They also supported a new communications plan, the aims of which will be to keep residents informed about developments and projects in the town; offer the opportunity for people to have their say; ensure the voice of young people are heard; and provide a two-way discussion on the opportunities.
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships and chair of Bishop Auckland Strategic Advisory Group, said: “Bishop Auckland is in a fantastic position at the moment, with access to a number of funding sources and a wide range of partners who want to do their very best to continue the transformation of the town.
“With representatives from across the community, the new board will ensure everyone has a voice and can feel involved in the many exciting projects taking place. We will also be making sure people know and understand what is happening in their community.
“Bishop Auckland is a great place on the cusp of some amazing changes – it’s vitally important that it’s residents and businesses feel a part of the journey and feel a real sense of pride for their area.”
Dehenna Davison, MP for Bishop Auckland, said: “With record Government, county council and private investment coming into Bishop Auckland, this is a time of real change for our town. That’s why it is crucial that all stakeholders work together to ensure we are able to make the most of this once in a lifetime opportunity, keeping residents of the town involved every step of the way.
“The Strategic Advisory Panel will provide an important oversight of all that is happening in the town, so I am really pleased that we had a strong turnout for the first meeting, and I look forward to continuing to work with my fellow board members going forward.”
Brian Sutton, of Let’s Clean Up Bishop Auckland, said: “I am delighted that representatives of all of the groups that are passionate about Bishop Auckland for once met and are working together for the good of the town.”
Bishop Auckland has secured considerable investment through the Future High Street Fund, of £19.8 million. The money will be used to support a number of projects, ranging from a new bus station and multi-storey car park to public realm improvements.
Bishop Auckland was one of only 101 areas nationally to be selected to apply for Stronger Town Funding. The bid was based on agreed projects securing £33.2 million.Source: Durham County Council