THE leader of a council has vowed to crack down on the use of acronyms in public meetings in a drive to make the authority more accessible to the people it serves.

Councillor Heather Scott issued the pledge over words formed from the first few letters of words in a phrase following Darlington Borough Council staging its first Cabinet meeting in a community setting to enable more people to attend.

While most of the 16 people in the gallery at Firthmoor Community Centre appeared to appreciate the initiative, some of those in attendance said they had been left perplexed as councillors referred to things using acronyms.

After a topic was announced as “key decisions for SEND” [special educational needs and disabilities], the authority’s children and young people portfolio holder Councillor Paul Cruddas said: “The money is being provided by the DfE [Department for Education], it doesn’t have an impact on the MTFP [medium term financial plan].”

One of those attending, music teacher Kerami Roberts, said holding Cabinet meetings in community locations was “fantastic”.

She said she had been “just about” able to follow the items being discussed as she had come armed with an agenda. Ms Roberts said: “Even though I am an ex-teacher and am fairly aware of acronyms, the repeated and frequent use of them can be really quite annoying.”

She said due to her disability she was not able to get involved in local democracy as much as she would like and had been impressed about being able to question the leading councillors during the meeting, despite it being against the usual protocol of the meeting.

Ms Roberts added: “Anything that increases transparency is good. The town hall is really hard to get around.”

The authority’s independent group leader Councillor Kevin Nicholson said he had received positive feedback following the meeting.

He said: “If it is impacting one or two people that’s what it’s about. One of my commitments was to bring the council more into the community and this is just part of a bigger transformation of the council.”

The council’s leader Councillor Heather Scott admitted she and her deputy leader, Councillor Charles Johnson, had been among the members to have used acronyms during the meeting.

She said: “We are holding meetings in the community as we want people to be able to see who we are and that we are not remote from everybody. We accept the comments and will do something about it – as a group we have got to start not using acronyms. It’s a learning curve. Next time we go out into the community you can be assured that I will not use acronyms and neither will the Cabinet members.”