The process, which started around 2009, to
dispense with revolutionise local government is now beginning to take shape. The opportunities for residents and community groups to interact with councillors and officers have gradually been removed to the point now where we hardly see them at all and when we do we are not allowed to participate.
And the latest proposals entitled “Transforming Redbridge” are set to take the process to a whole new level. Due to be discussed this evening (Monday 9 January) at the Strategy & Resources Committee, item 7a on the agenda, the “Governance Review” includes:
- abolition of yet more committees, with less opportunity for the administration to be challenged;
- abolishing two Full Council meetings every year, reducing the total from eight to six;
- cutting the length of both public question time and councillors’ question time;
- banning the public from asking questions of Cabinet Members unless about an item on the agenda;
- changing Council meetings to allow set speeches from Cabinet members with no opportunity for the opposition to reply;
- stopping councillors and the public from asking supplementary questions to follow up the first answer;
- The administration leading scrutiny of its own decisions after they have been made
“This is the most miserable set of proposals I have seen in my 23 years on the Council, and an utterly shabby piece of work which fundamentally misunderstands how the Council works and what residents expect from us. No evidence is provided as to why the current opportunity that both councillors and residents have to ask questions is causing difficulty for the Council – other than the obvious one that Labour would rather not deal with anyone who doesn’t agree with them.”Well, perhaps they are fed up with hoards of people turning up at the Town Hall on things like Glasbury, Sir James Hawkey Hall, the Music Service, Oakfield, Gravel Extraction and Parking?
Expect more decisions to be made without consultation, like the recent Green Garden Waste collection service being changed and the parking fiasco down in Wanstead, soon to be replicated elsewhere.
Update Tuesday 10 Jan:
In short, they rolled back on the public and member Questioning rules and the consultant will be looking again at the scheduling of full Council Meetings.
During the meeting it is reported that Cllr Athwal said: the changes “get Redbridge into the 21st Century” and "We want to be a modern organisation that is actually going to move forward."
So, does he think that scrutiny and public involvement/ protest stands in the way of Progress? This is not the model of how a Council should operate that was espoused (twice) by Cabinet Member Bob Littlewood at two of our coffee mornings.
Here's the Ilford Recorder, before and after.
Note this bit:
Cllr Bond believes some of the more “draconian” changes, such as the removal of supplementary questions at meetings, are aimed at reducing the effectiveness of activist residents.
“Oakfield is behind a lot of these changes,” he said