Friday, 11 May 2012

Begone you pesky petitioners! Brent downgrades petitioner power.

In a constitutional change to be discussed at the Council meeting on May 16th Brent Council is proposing that petitions of 5,000 or more valid signatures should no longer be debated by full Council and that those containing 2,500  valid signatures should no longer require a senior Council officer to give evidence at an overview and scrutiny committee.

Although the Council says its proposal is  a result of the Localism Act 2012 repealing the requirement for councils to adopt a petition scheme and leaving it to the discretion of each authority, there can be little doubt that the Labour Council has been irritated by the petitions organised by the Hindu community over festival funding, library campaigners over the closure of half of Brent's libraries and Keep Willesden Green over the Willesden Green Library Regeneration proposals. The latter was particularly controversial when Democratic Services  refused to hold a Full Council meeting on the issue.

The Council argues that this change will 'make the process more transparent' and will 'direct petitions to the decision maker as set out in the current Standing Order 68(e).

That Standing Order refers to petitions with 50 or more signatures and refers the petitions on upcoming decisions  to the Executive or the General Purposes Committee who can 'make recommendations concerning the petition to Full Council'.

As far as I can see this continues the erosion of democracy in Brent Council removing further citizen's ability to make representations to Full Council rather than the rubber-stamping Labour Executive.  If I was a backbench councillor of whatever political party I would be asking some awkward questions on the issue.

1 comment:

paul ashby said...

So much for representing the populations wishes..