Home > Just and fair to all? > Airbrushing of public questions at Arun District Council?

Airbrushing of public questions at Arun District Council?

Here is an example of how Arun District Council minutes public questions, as witnessed by me:

At Full Council on 9th January 2013 a rather nice lady (and with a razor sharp mind) stood up at the microphone and asked a very specific question about the lack of representation on Arun’s cabinet for the town of Littlehampton. The lady was very specific about the fact that Littlehampton was not represented at cabinet level and wanted to know why.

This is how her question was minuted

The Leader of the Council was asked a question, which had been submitted in advance of the meeting, regarding Cabinet Members and the areas that they represented.

This is how the response was minuted

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Mrs Brown, responded at the meeting by confirming the names of those Members who were Cabinet Members and she outlined the Wards that each of these Members represented.

Notice how the lack of cabinet representation for Littlehampton has been airbrushed from the minutes!! The question has been completely transformed.

This approach to the minuting of public questions has been going on for many years and with the full blessing of Arun’s councillors! The only thing that is certain is that Arun’s councillors will approve the minute as an accurate record of the meeting!

Is it any wonder that Arun and it’s councillors are so unpopular with the public they claim to represent?

  1. January 27, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Haha ta to all for making me laugh haven’t done this for so long it’s nice to know others clearly understand and I’m grateful hoping for closure soon didn’t know in 2008 when I awoke with no use of my legs caused by congenital heart block untreated for 49years what I was in for so very very grateful to all the people supporting me I now know others think as I do all not well in Arun so thanks every time I now see a pig or see animal farm I will think of Arun and you peeps who made me laugh god bless you

    • January 27, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      Hi Brigitte

      I’ve enjoyed this discussion thread too!!

      I know that you have had difficulties with Arun but keep going and don’t give in.

      Best wishes to you.

  2. January 27, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Speaking as someone who was once a member of the Conservative Group at Arun I just cannot resist this description of Groupthink by William H. Whyte, Jr. who coined the term in March 1952, in Fortune magazine:

    “Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences. Loyalty to the group requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking. The dysfunctional group dynamics of the “ingroup” produces an “illusion of invulnerability” (an inflated certainty that the right decision has been made). Thus the “ingroup” significantly overrates their own abilities in decision-making, and significantly underates the abilities of their opponents (the “outgroup”).”


  3. January 27, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Is their a training school for arun if so where is it they clearly have serious problems with communication and a clear inability to answer questions that are asked of them they don’t appear to grasp the fact they are paid to do a job after all you wouldn’t go into any other organizeation ask a question and it not be answered in terms of animals they are for sure a breed like no other perhaps they need further training on communication as something clearly lacking oink oink

  4. Robin
    January 27, 2013 at 8:39 am

    So what was the problem with the council providing a straight forward answer to a straight forward question put by a member of the public? Which part of the question didn’t they understand? It’s not as if they were caught out by the question since it had been submitted in advance. Did they think the question unworthy of a considered and proper response; are they really that arrogant? Clearly the question was important to the lady asking it and it would have been appropriate for the council to have recognised this and had the common courtesy of responding accordingly.

    When it comes around to approving the minutes, It will be interesting to see who puts their hand up in favor, who puts their hand up against and if there are any abstentions. Perhaps a member of the public should challenge them at the next full council meeting as to why this particular minute has been written in this way since it is clearly a fudge of the proceedings of the meeting? I wonder what sort of slimy response would be given.

    It seems to me that we are unfortunately lumbered with a collection of spineless, narrow minded ne’er do wells, who are so wrapped up in their own petty importance they have little or no regard for the people they purport to represent. At the end of the day all Councillors are expendable and Mrs Brown is well past her sell by date.

    Animal Farm = ADC

    • January 27, 2013 at 4:35 pm

      Robin – spot on!! I think the nickname Animal Farm could catch on – it speaks volumes.

      “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” – I think they are known as Cabinet Members!

      There are some interesting similarities in the characters! Guess who these are!

      Napoleon – “A large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar, the only Berkshire on the farm, not much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way”, An allegory of Joseph Stalin, Napoleon is the main villain of Animal Farm.”

      Squealer – “A small white fat porker who serves as Napoleon’s right hand pig and minister of propaganda.”

      The Sheep – “They show limited understanding of the situations but nonetheless blindly support Napoleon’s ideals. They represent blind conformity.”

      • January 27, 2013 at 4:48 pm

        Such fun – here are some apposite quotes from Animal Farm:

        “No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?”

        – George Orwell, Animal Farm, Ch. 5

        “Napoleon is always right.”

        – George Orwell, Animal Farm, Ch. 5

        “It had become usual to give Napoleon the credit for every successful achievement and every stroke of good fortune. You would often hear one hen remark to another, ‘Under the guidance of our Leader, Comrade Napoleon, I have laid five eggs in six days’; or two cows, enjoying a drink at the pool, would exclaim, ‘Thanks to the leadership of Comrade Napoleon, how excellent this water tastes!'”

        – George Orwell, Animal Farm, Ch. 8

        Well the cap definitely fits! Chuckle!

  5. January 26, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    Stuart – I just looked this up on Wikepedia. You are right – it does seem rather Orwellian!

    “Doublespeak is language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms (e.g., “downsizing” for layoffs, “servicing the target” for bombing, making the truth less unpleasant, without denying its nature. It may also be deployed as intentional ambiguity, or reversal of meaning (for example, naming a state of war “peace”). In such cases, doublespeak disguises the nature of the truth, producing a communication bypass.”

    It goes on to say

    “There is no explicit mention on where doublespeak’s primary concepts came from. However, doublespeak might possibly have certain concepts taken from George Orwell’s book, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Although there is no mention of Doublespeak in Nineteen Eighty-Four, it has been argued that the term is a combination of two concepts – Doublethink and Newspeak which are original to his work. Comparisons have been made between Doublespeak and Orwell’s descriptions on political speech from his essays Politics and the English Language in which “unscrupulous politicians, advertisers, religionists, and other doublespeakers of whatever stripe continue to abuse language for manipulative purposes”

    • January 27, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      Stuart – you’ve started something. I’m really enjoying revisiting Orwell – there are certainly similarities with Arun. How about this?

      “Nineteen Eighty-Four is a novel by George Orwell published in 1949. It is a dystopian and satirical novel set in Oceania, where society is tyrannized by The Party and its totalitarian ideology.

      The Oceanian province of Airstrip One is a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public mind control, dictated by a political system euphemistically named English Socialism (Ingsoc) under the control of a privileged Inner Party elite that persecutes all individualism and independent thinking as thoughtcrimes.

      Their tyranny is headed by Big Brother, the quasi-divine Party leader who enjoys an intense cult of personality, but who may not even exist. Big Brother and the Party justify their rule in the name of a supposed greater good.

      The protagonist of the novel, Winston Smith, is a member of the Outer Party who works for the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue), which is responsible for propaganda and historical revisionism. His job is to re-write past newspaper articles so that the historical record always supports the current party line. Smith is a diligent and skillful worker, but he secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion against Big Brother.”

      Sadly there is no Winston Smith on the horizon at Arun!!

  6. Stuart Morris
    January 26, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    I was listening to Animal Farm on the radio today and noted the way history was re-written by Napoleon and his pig cronies, and then how this version of history was used to undermine decent amongst the animals. There is still debate as to how much Orwell meant the story as a satire of Soviet Russia or as warning to ‘democratic’ Britain.

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