A NEW body has been launched to give residents and parish councils in the Cotswold Water Park area more say on future plans for the area.

The inaugural meeting of the Cotswold Water Park Parish Panel (CWPPP), a group set up following the disbanding of the Cotswold Water Park Joint Committee (CWPJC) in March, was held last Thursday (July 12).

Two representatives each from Parish Councils representing the West, East and Central regions of the Water Park, were elected to the panel the meeting.

The panel aims to exert influence on issues relating to the Water Park, liase between parishes and lead initiatives to achieve the objectives of the Cotswold Water Park Master Plan.

Former Wiltshire parishes representative on the CWPJC Robin Rogers, who chaired the meeting, said it was important the area had a framework for the communities within it to work together in the interests in residents.

“The CWPJC may not have been perfect, but a lot of people realised once it had gone that it had left a gap,” he said.

“The CWPPP will thread its way through a range of issues, and I believe it’s important it should be focused on the future because a lot of the past three years has been spent grappling with the past.

“One of the things that really encouraged us was that, in the darkest hours, the people involved in managing the Water Park never gave up.”

Cllr Rogers added he was optimistic about the success of the panel.

“Like it or not, we are in a new era of ‘Localism’ where the views of the community, well founded and well expressed, should count for more,” he said.

“The new Parish Panel will strengthen that voice.”

The group will be supported by an officer liaison group, made up of officers from authorities around the Water Park, as well as the Water Park Trust (CWPT), which will aim to foster communication across parish, district and county boundaries.

CWPT chairman Sir David John said the Parish Panel had a complex task ahead of it, but that any problems could be overcome with methodical and systematic co-operation.

“We have to improve communication and earn back the trust of the community,” he said. “This has to be very open and very transparent.”

“The Cotswold Water Park has enormous potential and we’ve got to get our act together.”

The representatives on the panel are Cllr Sarah Powell from Somerford Keynes and Cllr Alex Dupree from Minety for the western region along with Cllr Suzanne Jones from Fairford and Cllr Alison Ward from Kempsford for the eastern region.

Cllr Mike Hatton from Cricklade and Cllr Peter Frost from Down Ampney are representing the central region.