Monday, January 09, 2017

“Transforming Redbridge”

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
Opposition councillor Ian Bond has some pretty harsh words on the subject. See his post here.
“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

4 comments:

  1. Parking restrictions is a nightmare I hope does not come true, especially in Barkingside. I don't think it is necessary. Permit charges are painfully overpriced.

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  2. Cllr Bond, what has "Oakfield is behind a lot of these changes," got to do with the price of fish? - this is hardly a 007 attitude to take don't you think? - and to Mr Anonymous on Jan 11, you are quite right about Permit charges, or the prospect of them, why doesn't Redbridge take the reins of sensibility and stand proud in NOT ripping the residents off, making life difficult to find a parking place, especially if one is disabled and being uncomfortable in a shopping expedition while worrying about parking fines, also, businesses will be affected when people can't park near the stores, they will go to a Mall or, more likely, shop on line. - Be an example to the other Boroughs who squeeze the last penny from people who want to be out and about. I think, if Boroughs and indeed the Government want to make a few bob then charge bike users a small charge for road tax - say about £10 per year, not much but it will go some way in paying for all the mamby-pambying of road changes especially for their cause on more road safety - it shouldn't be left for car-users to continually be expected to foot the road tax and parking fees.

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    Replies
    1. Have you ever been to a Mall - you can't park *near* the stores. You can park, in a car park, like the one in Craven Gardens, and the walk from there to the High Street shops is a lot shorter than at Lakeside, Bluewater, Westfield and Ilford Mall.
      And you are on a slippery slope with a bike tax, next stop a pedestrian footway tax and "seating fees" if we need to park our bum for a rest on a bench.

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  3. I'm rather confused (not hard lately) on how B21's telling pointers on how the Redbridge Administration is making it harder for opposition and PUBLIC to ask questions leads onto permit parking!
    However, if the changes highlighted by B21 do get the green light from Cllr Athwal & co, then don't worry about consultation or asking any sort of question because it won't be answered, because you won't be allowed to ask it in the 1st place!
    I suppose the reason behind cutting the number of Committees down is the lack of Chief Officers, yes a saving, but at least someone was accountable, and if no one is in charge of a service, it's harder to know who to complain to, isn't it?
    Why are Cabinet Members afraid to answer supplementary questions from the public? No Chief Officers trying to work out the answers for them? Not knowing their brief? Not caring? Which leaves the question, what do the vast majority of Cllrs now do? They don't attend Regional Planning Meetings, or Area Meetings, they just might be on one of the 3 or 4 remaining Committees left - discussing things like Civic Pride - does that include fly tipping? and of course they will have fewer Full Council meetings to go to and no questions to answer from opposition or public.
    Vanessa

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