A new committee has been set up to put a council’s £1 billion regeneration of seven areas of Milton Keynes under the scrutiny spotlight.
As Milton Keynes Council is preparing to take the regeneration of Serpentine Court to the next stage following a public vote last year, councillors are gearing up to put the entire scheme affecting 20,000 people in 8,500 homes under scrutiny.
Cllr Ric Brackenbury, who chairs the council’s umbrella Scrutiny Management Committee, welcomed the new body which has been a year in the making.
But at a meeting on Tuesday he said he was “nervous” that the new body’s meetings – the first set for July 11 – would degenerate as members of the public filled the galleries and proved uncontrollable.
He said: “It clearly will be a challenge to chair, when people come along with questions, not on the agenda and they want to come along and ask it. It is possibly going to need a different approach.”
The task of chairing the new committee has been given to Labour’s Carole Baume, who was elected in May.
Cllr Baume said she would welcome: “Any advice you’ve got to control a very large public anxiety.”
Cllr David Hopkins wants to ensure that the committee’s work is ‘focused and not side-tracked’.
He said: “There is a danger that the meetings could degenerate into town hall public meetings. So it has to be made very clear that if people want to vent their spleen, their venting should be with the cabinet members and cabinet meetings, and not at this committee meeting.”
And Cllr John Bint suggested that the committee should look around the country for examples of how they have been successful and try to replicate it in Milton Keynes. “I think it needs a bit of positive PR and scrutiny in a positive sense.”
In a public vote last year 84 per cent of Serpentine Court’s residents voted in a regeneration ballot, and 93 per cent of them voted for the estate’s full redevelopment. The council is now preparing to submit a planning application this year.
In advance of that, the council is asking its planning department if an environmental impact assessment needs to be prepared. Details of that can be found on the council’s planning portal.
In another area, Fullers Slade, the council is aiming to hold a vote this year to agree the preferred approach.