Full council meetings: ‘Not fit for purpose’

A COUNCILLOR who clearly witnessed last night’s full council meeting with sinking horror tells me this afternoon: “Whichever party comes out on top in the May 6 elections I suggest that the current Full Council protocol is not fit for purpose and is crying out for radical reform early in the new administration…”

He has a point. A real baptism of fire for Deputy Mayor/Mayor Lulu Mitchell, chairing her first meeting with only the aid of a few whispers from the chief executive and the borough solicitor, this one had furious complaints about procedure, confused pauses where nobody in the chamber seemed to know what was going to happen next, Labour party walkouts and rabid checks of the constitution.

The main bunfight saw councillors spend at least 20 or 30 minutes arguing about whether to vote on future funding for UK Online centres in Camden or not. The centres are places where people without computers can go and do important stuff like search for work, access council services and read incisive blogs. In the end, the vote wasn’t taken. The madness of it all was that it would have taken 30 seconds to see a show of hands and no more than five minutes to take a recorded vote.

You do the math(s):

20/30 mins: the time talking about whether to vote on UK Online funding.

5 mins: the time it would have taken to take the vote.

That’s an equation that Dickens would have loved to lampoon. Man of the match was Alex Goodman, the Green councillor who is leaving the council to spend more time with his family, literally. He calmly seemed to unravel the madness of the scene in front of him but his measured requests for amendments and a simple yes/no vote were lost in the resistance.

1 Comment on Full council meetings: ‘Not fit for purpose’

  1. cllr. theo blackwell // March 2, 2010 at 5:27 pm //

    The reason for this wasn’t procedural error, but political resistance from conservatives and the liberal democrats who didn’t want this issue put to a vote. You have to ask them the reasons why, but it seems that ‘not wanting to be seen back down’ was the key factor.

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