Friday, 29 August 2008

Petitions, Public Question Time and Such 2

In my post Petitions, Public Question Time and Such on Friday 27th June, labelled politics and such. I referred to three issues at our last Town Committee meeting. A petition regarding road safety on the busiest stretch of road in our town ( I presented this on behalf of our local neighbourhood watch association) A question concerning transparency with the claims made in political leaflets and a comment about how I thought the leader of the Tories would carry on doing what he does, whatever.
Next Thursday is the next meeting of our town committee so I thought I would remind myself and my readership of the state of play.
At the end of the post I made some predictions:-1) The petition, will get lost in council speak, they will claim that the road is safe and we should all go away and forget it.
2) Question, will largely be ignored on the grounds that they could not possibly submit to things like that because it may compromise their relative political postures.
3) The leader of the Tories will ignore my comments and carry on feeling smug about what he is doing.
The way the system works it that you get a letter telling you they have received your question or petition followed by a detailed answer some weeks later.
Let me deal with item three first, the leader of the Tories is doing exactly what I predicted.
Question regarding transparency and councillors reporting to the committee. I now have detailed reply. This is the longest most polite “clear off you must be joking” letter I have ever received and much in line with my prediction. It will now be seen as a resolution at the next meeting but to me it raises more questions than it answers and basically means we aint gonna change mate, so shove off. The letter to me means scroungers charter. There should/must be a way of challenging some of the claims made in these political leaflets. Hopefully I will make the point at the next meeting that I am not satisfied with the reply. I wonder though if any councillors might decide that it is in their interests to be more open at these meetings and do independent reports. Now that would be breaking the mould. I won’t hold my breath.
The road safety petition is still in there fighting but I am hearing rumours that they are trying to kick it into touch by using the rouse that a Red Route is being planned for that road and this would be the subject of an inquiry during the process of considering the Red Route. This will take months and because a Red Route has already been thrown out once may never happen.
Looks like the predictions were pretty accurate after all. Can’t help feeling that local democracy is the looser here. If you want to change things you have to work hard to do it. Difficult at this stage to see how I might re-group and come back with a different angle for the same problem. The system is not designed to support the little guy but to protect the system. Perhaps we should think about organising a lie down in Newton Road at peak times and inviting the press. And before you think Oh no he wouldn’t, oh yes I would.

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