Sunday, 29 November 2009

Labour tries to stifle democratic debate (1)

The Labour Party in Darlington, shamefully, pushed through their proposal at last week's Council Meeting to abolish three consultative forums. As Cllr Dot Long said in support of their proposal, this is about making the consultative process streamlined and efficient. As I said in the Council Chamber, since when have efficiency and streamlining been part of the definition of democracy? Streamlining and efficiency appeal to bureaucrats and Labour politicians, of course.

As the discussion paper said, "Some members of the public regularly attend (forum) meetings mainly to pursue their own personal issues." Well, there you are then, we can't have ordinary members of the public expressing views the Labour Party disagree with, can we?

Feisty Conservative Councillor Gill Cartwright moved an amendment to refer the abolition of these forums to public consultation. Her party leadership called for a named vote on the amendment: the first one since I was elected. There was a complete split along party lines, with all Lib Dem and Tory councillors voting for the amendment. Inevitably, the vote was lost and a long-standing part of the democratic process in Darlington was consigned to history.

Labour tell us that many of the functions of these forums are carried out by the theme groups on the Darlington Partnership, so they are no longer needed. But the membership of these theme groups is selected by the Labour leadership: need I say more?

Unfortunately, Labour have become so entrenched as the party of government in Darlington that they believe only their views count.

1 comment:

james said...

Have you been turned down, i.e. not allowed to attend meetings of the LSP theme groups, then?

Is there a cost issue: LSP versus in-house fora?

As you might have gathered, I left before this bit.