New community forum ‘complicated’

Public information meetings have been taking place across the county on the new Public Participation Network PPN), which will replace the Laois Community Forum which was disbanded following last year’s local elections.

Public information meetings have been taking place across the county on the new Public Participation Network PPN), which will replace the Laois Community Forum which was disbanded following last year’s local elections.

The PPN will be the main link through which the council connects with the community, voluntary and environmental sectors.

The network will be organised at county level and at Municipal District Level.

Each PPN will have a county pleanry dealing with county level issues and a municipal district plenary dealing with issues at municipal level.

Council Administrative Officer, Georgina Ireland, appealed to local groups and organisations to register with the PPN before the February 20 deadline for registration.

“Only groups who are registered with the PPN will be able to have a representative stand in the election or will have a vote in the elections.”

Ms Ireland acknowledged that setting up the PPN would be a learning curve.

“It is a learning curve, but the community forum worked very well. We sent out a mailshot to over 650 groups in the county last week, to let them know what has to be done.

Ms Ireland said she hoped the new PPN would still be able to run all the events that the community forum had run over the years.

Many of the councillors commented on the complex structure of the PPN.

“It’s complicated but we will walk slowly and bring people with us,” Cllr Jerry Lodge said.

“Even though Georgina has simplified it for us here today, it’s still very complicated. The PPN will work, but it will just take more time to get used to it,” Cllr Padraig Fleming commented.

While Cllr Mary Sweeney said the early days of the community forum was complicated too.

“The onus is on us to make sure groups attend the meetings and register,” she said.

Cllr Tom Mulhall said the community forum was a very good thing for the county.