CALLS have been made to change the current format of council neighbourhood meetings due to poor attendances.

Castle Point Council brought about changes in May last year to hold one big meeting on Canvey rather than several localised ward meetings. But the change has led to a drop in attendance of 75 per cent.

Councillors on the island are worried that residents are missing important discussions involving the future of the new local plan and other items of interest.

The issue came to a head on Wednesday night when councillors outnumbered residents 14 to 13 at a meeting held in Canvey Methodist Church in Waarden Road.

Peter May, Canvey Independent councillor in central ward said: “The neighbourhood meetings were so well attended. They were always full and were comfortable with a friendly atmosphere. These are more like a formal chat and no-one likes them.”

Dave Blackwell, leader of the Canvey Independent Party and a local councillor for 18 years, added: “The councillors don’t like it. The residents don’t like it. These meetings are not accessible enough and no-one is told about them. We see the same faces every week and as nice as that is we want it how it used to be with up to 50 people speaking to their ward councillors.”

A Castle Point Council spokesman said the newer meetings helped “reduce bureaucracy” and led to a more “informal” discussion about residents concerns. The spokesman added: “The council will be reviewing its arrangement for all council meetings once again in May but like all changes sometimes they take time to settle down.”