Stakeholder meeting regarding music service

I was reading the minutes of the CHILDREN’S SERVICES OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY COMMITTEE that took place on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 10.00 a.m. and was interested to read about the stakeholder meeting that took place on 22nd March at Dunstable Fire Station.

From the minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services provided the Committee with the following information:-

A meeting had been held on Tuesday 22 March 2001 at Dunstable Fire Station, to which all stakeholders associated with the music service were invited.  It was reported that only 18 people attended which was very disappointing.  In response to this, several Members of the Committee raised concern that they did now know that the meeting had taken place and that they did not receive an invite and therefore questioned the method of communication taken to inform stakeholders of the meeting.  Following a detailed conversation about these concerns, Councillor Mrs A M Lewis clarified that a letter had been issued to all stakeholders and that schools had been asked to cascade the invite to all parents.

Now either Councillor Mrs A M Lewis is wrong about the date of the meeting, the one that Jo and attended was held on Tuesday 15th March, or even worse another meeting was held a week later. Either way, I have to agree with the comments made by the members, the communication regarding this meeting was very poor. We only knew about it because our names were put forward by Dunstable Music Centre. We received our invitation on the Saturday for the meeting on the Tuesday. We did not receive any communication through the schools, and given how much is at stake here, I cannot believe that schools simply did not pass this information on. I am also a parent governor at Watling Lower School and have subject links with music, so I cannot believe that the school decided it wasn’t important enough to bother me with.

As parents of children taking tuition and using Dunstable Music Centre, I would have though we were stakeholders and that we and all other parents in the same situation should have automatically been invited to attend. In the days leading up to the 15th March meeting, I checked all the websites for details of this meeting to see if it was a public meeting or who could attend and could find no details of the meeting, so concluded that, as we had been told, it was open to a small group of invited people. No small wonder if it was not advertised, there weren’t as many people attend as they would have liked. That said, the room was only set out to cater for about another 20 people, so they didn’t have high hopes.

It really annoys me to find this swept under the carpet in the minutes of a council meeting, when the the reality was so different. Knowing how passionate people are about this, I know the attendance would have been higher if people had sufficient notice to arrange to be at a 17:30 meeting and had been given the opportunity to attend.

It just re-enforces my view that any input was irrelevant, the decisions regarding the music service had been long made and it is now just playing out to the bitter end. I wonder when we will find out the results of the consultation and how that will be communicated to the stakeholders.

The 20 working days for my request under the Freedom of Information Act for the number of people dropping instrument lessons due to the massive fees rises is up on Wednesday, I wonder if that information will be forthcoming.

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