Caddington ward covers the six parishes of Hyde, Slip End, Caddington, Kensworth, Whipsnade & Studham
Individual parish council websites (where available) can be reached by clicking on the names aboves.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Update on meeting times

Last night we debated and voted on the motion as considered in my previous posting.  It began with some interesting points, but sadly degenerated into a clear example of why people are discouraged from standing for election or attending council
meetings as members of the public.

Cllr Smith spoke first to put his case as to why the motion should succeed; Cllr Jamieson responded with his opinion as to why such changes would be detrimental and hence why he would be opposing the motion.  Many other Councillors from both sides of the chamber then took their turn.

Sadly, the longer the debate continued, the more frustrating it became.  Speakers took up time to repeat points already made, challenge previous comments by blatantly misquoting what had actually been said and so on.  Despite the efforts of the vice-chairman, the debate showed no sign of reaching a conclusion  or progressing to the vote; it was becoming increasingly clear that the prevailing mood in the chamber was that the motion would fail but its small number of supporters were of the opinion that if they strung it out for long enough, minds would miraculously be changed.  It may be laudable to ensure a topic is fully explored, but the Council is often responsible for significant decisions with far-reaching implications and it started to feel distinctly awkward that some people's sense of perspective ranked this particular topic as worthy of such protracted discussion.

When we eventually reached the vote, the final insult was delivered with a call for a recorded vote.  For those that don't know, many votes are cast by show of hands; it takes perhaps one minute to count for, against and abstentions with the majority figure deciding the outcome.  A recorded vote involves every single Councillor being called to cast their vote individually and in turn, and those votes then being tallied up.  It is likely to take five minutes rather than one but the point is that every single Councillor's vote gets recorded in the minutes rather than just the overall result.  It can be an important part of the democratic process when deciding a vote on an especially contentious subject or one where the outcome is unpredictable and possibly settled by the slimmest of majorities.  This vote was neither contentious nor tight (the motion was defeated 40 - 9) and the call for it to be recorded was, frankly, petulant.

A Councillor from Luton Borough Council suggested to me that perhaps making meetings more interesting is more likely to attract people than altering the timings.  I quite agree.

1 comment:

  1. Until reading this I would have thought all votes would be recorded all of the time. So we (the voters) could find out how our local Councillors voted on all issues. A show of hands and no record of who voted which way sounds more like a communist state than a active democracy.