Friday, 2 October 2009

SEFTON COUNCIL ‘GAGGING’ PROPOSAL COMES UNDER ATTACK


My Birkdale Ward colleague Councillor Simon Shaw has condemned a proposal from Sefton Council’s Standards Committee which could prevent councillors from telling the public how they voted on controversial issues.


This week’s meeting of Sefton’s ruling, all-party Cabinet is being asked to endorse new rules approved recently by the Standards Committee, contained within so-called “Elected Members Media Guidelines.”


Simon has attacked a proposed new rule which says that councillors are not allowed to disclose how they and other councillors voted on decisions taken behind closed doors.


He has called for the Cabinet to reject the latest proposal as having no place in an open and democratic system of local government.


What is at stake here is the issue of democratic accountability to the public. The electorate have a right to be told who voted for something and who voted against,” comments Simon.


“I completely accept that there are a limited number of issues where there need to be confidential reports and that these have to be discussed with the press and public excluded. Quite rightly there is clear guidance in these Media Guidelines that it is forbidden to disclose information contained within those reports.”


“However, what is simply wrong is to say that you are not allowed to disclose how members voted. I am surprised and appalled that the Standards Committee support this ‘gagging’ proposal. ‘Standards’ must surely encompass openness, free speech and democratic accountability.”


“This illiberal proposal should be firmly rejected,” says Simon.

3 comments:

  1. Where did the proposal come from and why did that person think of making such a proposal? Did it receive any support from elected members?

    ReplyDelete
  2. The idea came because the Tories were very uptight about what they (mistakenly) thought was a spate of leaking confidential papers. They failed to produce any evidence.
    As part of the all party agreement they demanded with Labour support that there was a protocol. When finally agreed it had all its teeth were drawn
    Interestingly the one clear breach of confidential paper was a leading Tory who published stuff on her website.
    Sefton is 'unique' in having an all party coalition. the Tories are the smallest group with 17 councillors, Labour have 22 and the Lib Dems 27

    ReplyDelete
  3. Smashing, thanks for the explanation.

    ReplyDelete

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