Wednesday, May 25, 2011

RIP democracy in RCT

Just what is it that Labour Councillors in RCT are afraid of?  They clearly have no concept of the word democracy and it would be hard to imagine an organisation that supposedly works for the public which is less open to public scrutiny. The Council meeting tonight was a classic example. 
They passed some changes in the constitution including a resolution that says nobody – whether Councillor or observer – can photograph, video, record or otherwise transmit any details of proceedings outside of a Council meeting or they will be asked to leave.  Better beware of putting up comments on Facebook whilst sitting in the public gallery bored witless then or Russell may be calling the Police out again as he is so fond of doing at any hint of dissent.
As for the ban on video or audio recordings then they are obviously afraid such a thing may show up the appalling behaviour of some members of the ruling group.
They also decided to push through a change which means that in future if there is a tied vote at a planning meeting then the application will be decided upon by a Planning Officer rather than elected representatives.
They decided that if a Councillor wants to put a question to the Leader at a meeting then they must give at least eight clear days’ notice in future rather than the three days required now.  Obviously it takes the Leader a long time to come up with answers!  Maybe we need a few more people in the strategy department to come up with answers a bit more quickly.
To cap it all off they appointed one of their own to Chair the Council’s main scrutiny committee . Roger Turner was an Independent Councillor (well in name anyway certainly not in actions) and has been Chair of the committee for some years.  He recently joined the Labour party but it now seems that they have forgotten their earlier wish to be democratic and offer committee chairs to other parties.  Now Cllr Turner is the only man for the job!  They blamed the Local Government Measure claiming it says that they can’t give away chairs!  Now I may just be being daft but nowhere can I see where it says that.
Nobody does politics like RCT does politics. Honestly – you couldn’t make it up!


Frank H Little said...

Karen, it seems to me that the decision to stop the public commenting on council decisions is open to legal challenge. As I understand the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960, you need permission only for live transmission of council proceedings or for direct recording for later playback. Making notes is not forbidden so I would have thought that passing comment to a companion either physically present or on the other end of a phone conversation would be permissible. (Warning: I am not a lawyer)

Of course, they may claim that they are acting "to suppress or prevent disorderly conduct or other misbehaviour at a meeting". ;-)

Anyway, good luck with your attempts to drag RCT council into the liberal consensus.

DutchEnery said...

You are damned if you do and damned if you don't. It seems to me that democracy has left these RCT shores and probably did some while ago!

Archie Powell said...

Did Mike want the Chairman then........& the loot?