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Archive for January, 2014

Oh dear, Cllr Mrs Brown feels insulted!

January 26, 2014 2 comments

Although the Chairman very generously extended public question time at the Full Council meeting on 8th January there was still not enough time for all public questions to be put. The public were advised that a written response would be provided to any questions that could not be put. Here is one such question and the written response from the Leader.

Councillor Mrs. Brown will find that indignation is no defence when this question is put by barristers in the quasi-judicial context of an Examination in Public.

Public question to the Leader – Full Council January 8th 2014

“It is a matter of public record that the council led a campaign against the Eco Town proposals. In April 2008 a press release from the council stated: “the Leader of Arun District Council, Cllr Mrs Gillian Brown, signalling the start of a council-led community campaign against the proposal said she was appalled that no account had been taken of the Council’s consistent and overwhelming objections to an eco-town at Ford.”

It is quite clear that the findings of the Eco Town Select Committee were predetermined.

This is particularly relevant in 2014 because the council now seeks to use the findings of the Eco Town Select Committee as justification against development on brownfield land at Ford, and instead, to justify development of large swathes of greenfield land across the district.

Do you accept that by actively campaigning against development at Ford, it can now be seen that the council has wilfully disadvantaged residents in other areas?”

Response to your Second Question from the Leader of the Council, Councillor Mrs Brown

“First of all, I think that it is very insulting to suggest that the cross-party Members of the Eco-Town Select Committee did not take their responsibilities seriously and that the findings were pre-determined.

I am sure that there is not anyone who sat on that Committee who would agree with you and in fact you sat through the evidence yourself and know that was not what happened and is completely untrue.  Ford has been separately considered as an area for accommodating growth within the sustainability appraisal process used to inform the Local Plan. 

It is on the outcome of this that Ford has to date been rejected due to a lack of infrastructure and service capacities rather than solely on the basis of the Select Committee findings.  No, I do not think the Council has wilfully disadvantaged residents in other areas.” 

Readers will, of course, note that Cllr Mrs Brown has avoided the main issues, which are:

A council cannot campaign against something (the “council-led community campaign” against the principle of an Eco Town) and at the same time consider it with an open mind (the Eco Town Select Committee).

The Leader acknowledges “the Council’s consistent and overwhelming objections to an eco-town at Ford.” In other words, the council had already decided its position long in advance of the Eco-Town Select Committee.

Given that the cabinet voted to “mount a campaign against the principle of Eco-Towns in the District” those cabinet members, in effect, predetermined their position with regard to consideration of LDF option 2.

By leading a campaign against one of its own LDF options the council, in essence, favoured residents in one section of the community at the expense of residents in other locations like Angmering, Barnham/Eastergate/Westergate, Westbank, Bersted, Courtwick and North Littlehampton.

More than 25% of young people share parents’ homes

January 21, 2014 1 comment

Here’s something that should concern us all:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25827061

 

Categories: Main blog

Filming of council meetings – self service or public service?

January 18, 2014 Leave a comment

As we all know, around  250 people were refused admission to the council chamber for the meeting of 8th January 2014 when they turned up to see local governance in action. They were refused admission on the grounds of health and safety. The turnout was entirely predictable and Arun’s officers seemed ill prepared.

Towards the end of the same meeting there was a debate on the filming of council meetings. A number of councillors expressed concern that, if members of the public were to film council meetings, there was a risk that such film might be used to satirise, pillory or misrepresent councillors. Those councillors spoke of the need for the council to film meetings itself, not as a service to the public,  but in order to create a record of the meeting as a protective measure for councillors. In the interests of balance it should be noted that a small number of councillors did speak in favour of filming council meetings and that they were critical of the stance taken by some of their colleagues.

If the council were to film meetings itself and webcast them (as a service to the public not as a self-serving protection measure!) two things would be likely to happen. First, there would be little need for the public to film proceedings anyway, and secondly, the council would own the copyright which would provide some protection against possible abuse. It’s nothing new – WSCC have been doing it for years.

It is sad that, on a night when 250 members of the public were prevented from attending the meeting, a number of members showed little or no interest in the public service opportunity presented by the filming/webcasting of council meetings!

Some councillors need reminding of the difference between self service and public service!