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Together forever and never to part?

February 16, 2014 Leave a comment

At Full Council on 11th February 2014 the following public question was put to the Leader of the council:

“The Local Plan is a shambles. It seems to me that this is a direct result of poor political leadership. 

It has taken over 9 years for a partial plan to finally emerge and be put before Full Council tonight – and, of course, with all the difficult decisions left for another 6 months, or more. 

Does the Cabinet Member with responsibility for spatial planning still have your full confidence?”

The Leader responded:

“I certainly don’t agree with your comments about the Local Plan at all. But I’m very happy to confirm that Councillor Bower has my full confidence.”

I am reminded of that old Rick Astley classic, which goes something like this:

Together forever and never to part
Together forever we two
And don’t you know
I would move heaven and earth
To be together forever with you

When you’ve all stopped singing there is, however, a serious question here:

As we know, the Leader and Cabinet Member have both held their respective offices for almost 8 years.

My understanding is that the Cabinet Member and his officers play a leading role in developing the Local Plan and its policies and that, it is the role of the Local Plan Sub Committee to scrutinise/amend any proposals coming forward before recommending them to Full Council.

Apart from a short time when the Cabinet Member was forced to resign from the Local Development Framework Sub Committee (and subsequently unresigned!) he has acted as either Chairman or Vice Chairman of the LDF or Local Plan Sub Committee – that’s for a period of almost 8 years!

Is it sound practice for any Leader to allow the political architect of a Local Plan to, in essence, also lead the scrutiny of his own work?

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An outbreak of common sense – Special Full Council on 11th February 2014 to be webcast

February 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Following the recent Full Council meeting at which some 250 members of the public were denied access to the council chamber the next meeting of Full Council on 11th February 2014 (Special Full Council re the Local Plan) will be webcast live on the council’s web site. It seems that common sense has prevailed!!

Let’s hope that:

a) This now happens on a regular basis.

b) The recordings are made available on the web site after the meeting so that those members of the public unable to view on the evening will be able to do so at their convenience. Now that really would be a positive step towards public service!

Whilst this is undoubtedly a step forward in terms of the council engaging with the public it is also important that the public does not now become complacent.

For important meetings, with important agendas, a strong show of public feeling is still the ONLY thing that seems to get the attention of some of our councillors.