To be raised at the next Cabinet Meeting on 23 August 2010 (5:30pm at the Town Hall)
In January of this year, I asked a question about public participation in and access to information
from Council meetings. I was assured that there would be some progress. At the very same meeting of the Cabinet it was decided not to allow the public to speak at Planning Meetings (despite this being standard practice at many District-level councils).
Since then, there have been many decisions taken by Cabinet and Full Council in the private parts of the meetings. Notable among these have been those to alter the management structure at the Council and to increase the responsibilities of the Leader. It is only in retrospect that the public has become aware of the latter change, and the basis for the decisions are still not in the public domain.
It is not even clear, apart from through assurances, that the new arrangements have been independently verified as being fully in compliance with the law, or whether the new Leader’s role should not me more appropriately filled by a person directly elected as Mayor for the whole borough.
The Leader has claimed that the public would not be interested in the changes. I can assure him that as a council tax payer a local resident I am most interested in how such changes have been made, and I know that I am not the only one.
In the light of this information, will the Leader and the Council now make public as much information possible about the way that these decisions have been reached, and accept that up to now they have been acting against the interests of open and transparent democracy?
The question I asked in January can be found here
If anyone wants to have a question asked, they can get details on how to do so from the Council’s website – Questions at Cabinet and Scrutiny Panels – Please note that a question for the next Cabinet meeting has to be received by 10am on Friday 20th. If your question is long, it is better to send an email, as the web-based form has a limit of 255 characters.
I can’t make the meeting, but the question should still be asked and answered. I’ve also circulated a copy to the local print media in case they take an interest.