Thursday, 26 August 2010

Barnet council makes monkeys of residents

I was just about to plough through the Local Development Framework - almost 350 pages - when I realised what monkeys Barnet council is making of me, well, us.

When they changed the rules for public question time at Cabinet meetings last October I knew that it was an assault on the democracy of the borough. But it's only now when I try to play by the new rules that I realise how completely they have destroyed this already measly avenue we have to hold the council to account.

Residents have about a week to plough through whatever documents the Cabinet will discuss - how many Cabinet members will read these documents before they vote on them? They have to do this just to know whether or not the topic they would like to discuss is going to come up at the meeting.

You simply cannot tell from looking at the list of items for the agenda whether your question would be in order or not.

Local Development Framework. Bet you a penny to a pound that you could legitimately raise a question about any one of a dozen topics within this framework, but you won't know unless you read the document, all 350 pages of it.

They might as well have abolished public questions altogether. I'm so scandalised by what they've done that I'm thinking of boycotting it altogether, but I'm taking a twin-track approach: ask a question - not on the Local Development Framework though! - and find out whether we can overturn this dreadful rule. Which rule? The one that says that instead of being able to raise any item of council business, as you could in the past, you have to raise something that is on the agenda of the Cabinet meeting in question.

Watch out for progress reports on Operation Restore Public Question Time.


Jaybird said...

I am totally with you on that one Vicki!

Anonymous said...

Local Development Framework! Ahh, that old chestnut, part of which was the ORIGINAL Brent Cross Plan before that side was developed with a few shops. In return, "could it include" the Regeneration of West Hendon and Partners like Metropolitan Housing Associatin/Trust.History

There's a couple of of people whom were not councillors at that time now Elected to the Town Hall!and, a few who know about that. Maybe they'll deal with the LDF bit.

Some of us boycotted public question time long ago when the elected lot from one's own side knocked it down to a political points scoring farce that should have been reserved for their Town Hall Knockabout night.

We need a Public Question Time for us the public and I'm with you.