Meet the Community Forum Chair
In December 2022 Sue Manns MBE took over the Chair of the A303 Stonehenge Community Forum from Jim Claydon.
Like Jim, Sue is a Past President of the Royal Town Planning Institute and a specialist in community engagement in nationally significant infrastructure projects. Sue has worked across the public, private and voluntary sectors, at national, regional, and local levels and provided advice to a wide range of organisations on best practice approaches to effective and inclusive community engagement. Currently Sue is also Independent Chair of the A358 Improvement Scheme Community Forum.
By way of introduction, we asked her a few questions about her role.
What is your experience in the infrastructure sector?
I am a Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute, a planner and a community engagement specialist. During my career I have worked in the public, private and voluntary sectors, at national, regional and local levels and have also lectured in planning law and practice.
I work across sectors to raise awareness of the importance of engagement in development projects, providing training on the variety of approaches, tools and techniques available and have authored a Best Practice Guide on the subject.
Alongside Planning Aid England, I have provided support to Town and Parish Councils in Suffolk to help them respond to the consultations on Sizewell C and have worked with Heathrow Airport to set up the first Community Engagement Board required by a National Policy Statement as part of their expansion plans.
So, what is your role as Independent Chair of the A303 Stonehenge Community Forum?
As an independent chair my role is very much focused on facilitating a balanced, honest and confident discussion around the issues, choices and decisions that will need to be made. Everyone’s opinions matter equally, and all voices need to be heard and respected.
Forum members bring different knowledge and life experience to the table which when shared can inform discussions, enable greater understanding from all sides, help us to better consider implications and to explore potential solutions from different perspectives. Although it is rarely possible for everyone to be in agreement about everything, as research shows an open, transparent and collaborative approach leads to better outcomes. This is what I will be looking to achieve.
And what experience do you have of chairing a Community Forum for a road scheme?
For the past two years I have Chaired the A358 Improvement Scheme Community Forum, and I am very much looking forward to getting to know everyone in a similar way with my involvement in the A303 Stonehenge project. From my handover with Jim Claydon the former Chair and listening in on the December Community Forum meeting, it’s clear just how much people care for this very special place.
I very much look forward to meeting members of the Community Forum and others involved in the project.