RURAL communities are being given the chance to help shape their future after being awarded £20,000 government funding.
Five villages in the Hartlepool area have secured the funding to create a Neighbourhood Plan to help them decide the future development of their communities.
It is part of the Government’s Big Society scheme to help give more power to people instead of politicians and bureaucrats.
The Neighbourhood Plan is being led by the parish councils for Greatham, Elwick, Hart, Dalton Piercy and Newton Bewley.
Brian Walker, chairman of Greatham Parish Council, said: “It is all about having the community look at solutions to various issues rather than having them imposed upon them.
“People tend to leave things until someone starts building a sewerage works next to their house or something and then they start complaining, which is far too late.
“You need to get in at the beginning and say what you wish to see.
“I think it’s an excellent idea. It is developed from a community’s problems and issues rather than having them imposed from above.”
The £20,000 funding was obtained by Hartlepool Borough Council and its officers are supporting the initiative.
The project will see the creation of one Neighbourhood Plan for the whole rural area, covering issues such as housing and transport.
Eventually, it will be adopted by the borough council.
A series of community events are being staged in each of the four parishes to spread the word and get people on board.
On Monday, June 11, Greatham residents are invited to take part in a walkabout with planning expert Colin Haylock, of the Royal Town Planning Institute.
He will give feedback from a previous public event held in the village a few weeks ago.
And people are encouraged to go along and say what they like and do not like about the area and how it could be improved.
The walkabout takes place at Greatham Community Centre from 4pm to 7pm.