A BRAND new neighbourhood forum has launched for two York wards - and its new chairman and leaders say they want to represent their communities and celebrate their heritage.

The Acomb and Westfield Forum held its first annual general meeting on Saturday, March 10, and is now ready to apply for funding to start work.

The forum met in Acomb Explore Library on Saturday, and its new members voted to include anyone who lives or works within the Acomb and Westfield ward boundaries. Members will be able to vote on the Neighbourhood Plan which they plan to be develop with local residents, businesses and community groups.

The newly elected forum chairman Dr Mike Heyworth MBE said they were delighted with the response so far from local people.

He said: “We have 87 members already and want to make sure that we represent communities right across our wards. We want as many people as possible to join us. This is a community plan - led by residents - and it’s our chance to make a difference to thousands of lives.”

The meeting saw architect Phil Bixby, who led the My Castle Gateway consultation, talk about how local people can make a difference by getting involved in neighbourhood planning.

Acomb councillors Stuart Barnes and Keith Myers were also there and talked about the challenges and opportunities in Acomb ward and the need for recreational space and cultural facilities; while Joe Gardham of Social Vision told the meeting about social business models which can help young people, start-ups and small businesses with training, support and space.

The forum’s new vice chairman Louise Ennis, said: “I know from talking to residents about the Carlton Tavern that Acomb has a very strong identity and people really care about its history. Now we can protect that village character.

“We also have a busy library, extensive shopping area with a monthly farmers’ market, and a beautiful village green. But most importantly we have a huge helping of community spirit. We’re very excited that the forum is up and running and we can start to make the most of Acomb’s potential.”

The forum’s website is up and running at www.acombwestfieldforum.org.uk and Facebook page at Facebook.com/acombforum.