Monday 20 January 2014

'Let us speak' campaigners urge Brent party leaders

Campaigners opposed to the proposed Council Tax Support scheme being voted on at tonight's full meeting of Brent Council, have written to all three group party leaders urging them to allow a resident to speak at the meeting.

Earlier Brent Housing Action had been told there was 'no provision' for the public to speak at full Council meetings. However campaigners are citing Clause 40a of the Standing Orders which states:
(a) With agreement of all Group Leaders a speaker shall be invited to attend and speak on an issue pertinent to the London Borough of Brent. The speech shall not exceed 10 minutes. 
The three leaders are Cllr Muhammed Butt (Labour), Cllr Paul Lorber (Liberal Democrat) and Cllr Suresh Kansagra (Conservative).

BHA say that it is particularly important that they be given the chance to speak because the consultation over the continuance of the scheme, with only minor tweaks, was poorly handled and the response rate was low.

They point to the Council's own commentary on the Consitution which states:
Purpose of the Constitution (LINK)

1.4 The purpose of the Constitution is to:
  • support the active involvement of citizens in the process of local authority decision-making; 
  •   enable decisions to be taken efficiently and effectively; 
  • create a powerful and effective means of holding decision-makers to public account; 
  • ensure that no one will review or scrutinise a decision in which they were directly involved; 
  • ensure that those responsible for decision making are clearly identifiable to local people and that they explain the reasons for decisions; and 
  • provide a means of improving the delivery of services to the community.  
I agree with the campaigners who argue that:
This clearly indicates that the Constitution is there to facilitate public debate and citizen involvement.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Martin,
Your blog here rings a bell with me!
Last November you kindly posted a "guest blog" from me about my battle with senior Council Officers to consult properly on the new Museum and Archives Strategy, and to put Sue McKenzie's staff restructuring in that department "on hold" until that Strategy had been properly consulted on and decided. Part of my correspondence with the Operational Director, Neighbourhoods, opened with the words:
'Thank you for your email. You are correct in thinking that it does not give the answer I was hoping for. I was hoping for the right answer to an important point of principle, and your reply suggests that you do not fully understand the meaning of:

'The Council is committed to involving the community through effective consultation and two-way communication.' (Article 10.1 of Brent's Constitution)'

I wrote the following statement of what I believe to be the best way forward for Brent in an email to Cllr. Roxanne Mashari in late October, and copied this paragraph in my complaint letter to Christine Gilbert (Interim Chief Executive) on 6 November:
‘I believe that much more positive results can be achieved for our community by local people, council officers and councillors working together. That is what I try to do in practice, but it needs to be seen to work.’

It clearly is not working yet, but that is the vision set out by Brent's Constitution, it is a good vision, and we need to keep bringing it to the Council's attention until they do follow their own "rules" in practice.
Philip Grant.