I regularly keep updated on the rules governing the conduct of business at
the council meeting. So claimed our illustrious mayor in
her reply to an
informal complaint about the total lack of chairmanship skills she displayed
at the council meeting of 17th November 2010. Hmm, well if she does keep herself
updated she has a very short memory, about eleven minutes long to be precise. After
saying that the entire population of the borough is allowed 15 minutes to question cabinet
members and councillors are given the same time so everything is fair
she forgot what she said almost immediately at Wednesdays
meeting. Despite protests on both counts she restricted public questions to eleven
minutes and extended councillor questions to 20.
I appreciate that it may be cruel to pillory someone with such advanced memory loss but on the other hand it would be kind to relieve her of her position. The following formal complaint has therefore gone to the councils Standards Committee. I suspect others present at that disgrace to democracy last Wednesday evening will be doing the same.
Dear Mr. Loynes,
I was one of a small number of residents who had posed questions for the council meeting on 2nd March. I am sure I heard the chairman and mayor explain to everyone present that correct procedure is that questions will be taken as read and merely answered by the appropriate cabinet member and that 15 minutes would be allowed for all questions and that was fair because the same time would be afforded to councillors. This I understand but I appreciate that the standing orders must be repeated at each meeting for the benefit of newcomers.
You may therefore imagine my surprise when the chairman, Mrs V. Clark, brought public questions to an end only 11 minutes after she made her announcement. It was a gross abuse of her position but she persisted with going against standing orders even when advised of the timing error.
Her abuse of residents awaiting their turn and disrespect for the entire population of the borough whose ability to pose questions is compromised, was compounded by her decision to extend councillors question time to 20 minutes, some three minutes beyond the point at which the previous reply came to its natural conclusion. The overrun was brought to the chairmans attention at the 17 minute point but she chose to deliberately flout standing orders. She knew what she was doing but continued with the malpractice anyway.
I am therefore making a formal complaint that the chairman breached standing orders and should be suitably admonished and made to apologise to the public present at another meeting in the near future.