Concerning H. Gates’s letter (They’re all just talking shops, November 3), I hope I can give him reasons to be optimistic about the forums — and maybe even to play a part in their success.

I can assure readers that the new Township Forums are a lot more than talking shops.

They are a real opportunity for local people to influence decisions which affect their area. H. Gates mentions the Advisory Group on each forum — these groups comprise local representatives from the business community, voluntary and community groups from the local area.

They will all play an important role on the forum, with their opinions and their local knowledge.

All local residents are welcome to attend forum meetings, and to ask questions during the open forum.

The leader of the council, Cllr Mike Connolly, has also promised to attend forum meetings, if requested, to discuss council decisions. Each forum will develop and monitor progress against a set of agreed local priorities, delivering real action for people in their local areas.

May I invite H. Gates to come along and take part at the next meeting of the Ramsbottom, Tottington and North Manor Township Forum, which is tonight at Tottington Methodist Church, starting at 7pm.

Cllr Sandra Walmsley Executive member for communities Bury Council