Breaking down barriers of local government

Cllr Habib Rahman with members of Riverside CHP at the Civic Centre
Cllr Habib Rahman with members of Riverside CHP at the Civic Centre

Groups of people who find themselves disengaged with local government are being invited to the Civic Centre and introduced to key figures in a bid to break down barriers.

Cllr Habib Rahman, Newcastle City Council cabinet member for communities, has set about trying to encourage different communities to engage with local decisionmakers who they may find unapproachable.

The first visit saw women from the Riverside Community Health Project’s Time to Talk group welcomed to the Civic Centreon Thursday November 8.

They were given a tour of the building and the council chamber, introduced to the council structure and decision-making process, met with leader Cllr Nick Forbes, opposition member Cllr Robin Ashby, and Lord Mayor Cllr David Down.

Cllr Rahman said: “The Civic Centre is the home of Newcastle’s democracy and the politicians and officers who are based in the building are here to represent and serve all residents of the city.

“Everything that goes on here is for the people of Newcastle so it is vitally important that people know what we do and feel able to approach us.

“Despite this, some in the city do not engage with those who work here, and feel they are outside the political process or of no importance to the council.

“I want to turn these views around and show people who may feel marginalised that we are here for everyone.”

Diane Tait, community cohesion worker at Riverside CHP, said: “It went really well and I think they all enjoyed the visit.

“They had a lot of questions for the leader and the leader of the opposition and I think it was important for them to see how the council works. It showed them there’s no need to feel intimidated, they can approach the council and they know the procedures that are in place to do that.”

Cllr Rahman hopes to welcome other groups and organisations to the Civic Centre in the near future.