Thursday 10 February 2011

Council and Public Participation

Last night Mr Reasonable attended the Special Committee (Constitution) at Hendon Town Hall. This is where councillors discuss amendments to the constitution. There were a number of proposed amendments to the way motions are dealt with in council meetings and it seemed to be proposing significant restrictions on who could speak. I was surprised there wasn't much more of a discussion about what seems to be an ever increasing restriction of councillors rights to speak. If I was a councillor I would have been kicking up merry hell but obviously I do not understand the subtleties of what was being proposed.

I was there to ask about the role of public participation in the overview and scrutiny process. One councillor did ask why I had put forward such a modest proposal on public participation. I made the point that I would love to see a root and branch review of the way the council involves the public but that the current restrictions in the constitution meant that I could only address what was on the agenda i.e. the overview and scrutiny process. There followed much debate about the issue of public particpation, but the impression I was left with was that the ruling group really don't want the public involved. Part of me wonders why I bother going all the way over to Hendon just to be ignored, but my view is that if we don't keep reminding the councillors that they are supposed to be there to represent us, the residents, they will take our non attendance as a signal that what they are doing is ok - and it isn't!


  1. John, it's an absolute bloody disgrace. If Hillan and Coleman want to behave as if they have the mandate that someone like Boris has then they should put themselves forward as directly elected Mayor's.

    I fought hard against strong forces, such as Hillan, Freer, Coleman and others who were determined to snuff out the voice of the public and ultimately lost. I was on this Committee and argued against many measures like this but too many of the current bunch of Councillors are pig ignorant about the importance of such safeguards and the rest do know but couldn't care a less.

    It's a very very sad state of affairs and as a committed Conservative I am ashamed and disgusted (as are plenty of Conservative Government Ministers) to be tarred by association with people like Hillan and Coleman.

  2. I was at his meeting, and what you asked for was not a root and branch change, but a minor amendment. The quote which most sticks in my mind was from Andrew Harper, that public participation would devalue his role as a member!

  3. Hi Jaybird, Possibly you have misread my text. What I say above is that I DID ask for a modest change but when asked why I HADN'T ASKED for a bigger change by Cllr Schneiderman I said I would love to see a root and branch change BUT that due to the restrictions in the constitution that question would have been disallowed because public particpation was not an agenda item. You are absolutely right about Cllr Harper's comment which led me to the conclusion that they really don't want us annoying members of the public involved.

  4. Have to correct myself. According to Mrs Angry it was Richard Cornelius who made the comment.

    It was at that point that the other member of the public walked out.