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Bid to better city; GROUPS' MEETING TO PLAN BRIGHTER FUTURE IS HAILED A SUCCESS.

Byline: ROBERT WEATHERALL

COMMUNITY groups have been meeting with civic leaders in a bid to improve their city.

More than 160 people from all walks of life across Newcastle met with councillors and officials to put forward their ideas on what can be done to make the city a safer, more vibrant and pleasant place to work and live.

In total 14 projects ranging from making litter bins more appealing to children to improving parks were discussed at the event which was the first of its kind.

One of those attending was Chris Hansen. The 50-year-old carer from Benwell is a member of the Friday Afternoon Club which wants to see better transport links in the West End.

She said: "I think today's event has been really worthwhile. It has given the public a chance to come and press their case directly to those who make the decisions.

"We want a better bus service into the city. On a Sunday my daughter has to walk into work because the services just don't start early enough.

"It may sound like something very simple but it would greatly improve things for people living in my neighbourhood. Not everyone has a car. Even if you do have a car you are always being encouraged to use public transport because it is greener but you can't do that if the services aren't there."

The event, which was called the Newcastle Citizen's Assembly, was held at the Great North Museum: Hancock.

The Citizen's Assembly is being jointly run by the Newcastle Partnership and City Council.

Lucy Thomson, community engagement manager, said: "All aspects of life in Newcastle have been considered from the economy, health and wellbeing and the environment to creating quality places to live, safer communities and improving the lives of children and young people."

The event was also attended by Newcastle City Council leader John Shipley.

He said: "I think today's event has been a very worthwhile exercise.

"The council doesn't always have the answer to problems and neither do the public. It is only by working together that we will be able to make the quality of life for everyone in the city better.

"This is a key part of our strategy to increase the numbers of people in the city who feel they can influence local decisions."

Despite the event now being over other members of the public can have a chance to have their say on which projects the City council should focus their attention on.

A website has been set up providing more information on the different schemes which were discussed at yesterday's event.

For details, go to www.newcastlecitizens assembly.org.uk

CAPTION(S):

MEETING: Chris Hansen, Jackie Gill, Debbie Hutchinson and Gurden Kaur
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 13, 2009
Words:456
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