Sunday, 12 April 2009

The silent majority?

Thursday evening was the last West Bromwich Town Committee meeting. These committees have been in existence for ten years and to me they were a useful part of local democracy giving has they did the public a platform for debate, for questions, the presentation of petitions and to see their councillors in action or not has the case may have been. Last night the chair read out a statement to the effect that it was the end of committee with no time for questions or debate. I felt that this was an inappropriate and undemocratic way to do it. The local forums which are to replace the town committees do not seem to me to be formal enough or indeed established in some areas to be able to do the job. Ours in Great Barr & Newton is run on a voluntary basis by a well respected ex councillor who gets some help with notes from the meetings. I think the council should have a clear plan of the alternative before finishing the committees. The argument was that members of the public were not attending but West Brom always had a good attendance and last night the room was full. This was partly due to a group of about 25 protesting about the Red Route along All Saints Way and handing in a petition of some 400 signatures against this. The group were very vocal and humorous at times in their opposition but last nights meeting only allowed for the presentation of the petition and they were advised of a meeting later in the month when the matter would be discussed at the council house. Judging by my ear wigging a bloke in front of me who persisted in talking to a councillor in front of him and preventing me from hearing the proceedings the Tories are going to support them in opposing this scheme. This will give Cllr Ward a bit of a problem because he referred to an earlier petition which I believe was the one I presented about a year ago with 750 signatures calling for safety measures on Newton Road and he was involved with. He agreed to find out about this petition because it seems as though it may have been misplaced. I couldn’t help but think that I was part of the silent majority on Thursday, but my back hurt and I was feeling a bit below par so I thought wait on Bob there will be another opportunity.
Our new sector police Inspector introduced herself. We had met at NHW earlier in the week and knew each other from stuff in the past she is very welcome on our patch.
A lady claiming to be one of the new public crime fighters asked about how the police were going to deal with new regs, re communications with the public outside of NHW. I was surprised by this statement because I assume she was talking about one of the new anti terror teams (she terrified me)which have been talked about but as far as I’m aware no one on our patch has been involved with and probably I would know. Insp. Munslow did not appear to know about this new development. Are the Home Office recruiting and training these people without the knowledge of local police? This seems to me to be a dangerous situation.
Two councillors gave an account of their duties. This was as a response to a question I raised about 6months ago because I was concerned that there was no way of checking that the claims made by councillors in their newsletter were true and I felt that some of them were indeed whoppers. I will never know now will I? At the end I noted that the local paper were interviewing one of the protestors against the Red Route I wonder if the article will give a balanced view on the whole scheme? The last one didn’t. For the moment I remain one of the silent majority.

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