SHOULD full council meetings come with an 18 rating due to all the arguing? A dispute is raging behind the scenes at Camden Town Hall as to whether children who want to address tonight’s all member meeting will find it all too hostile.
Lib Dem and Conservative councillors have suggested that the children, Camden’s looked after children for whom the council is a corporate parent, should make their presentation to our local politicians at 6.45pm, before the rest of us get there and the politicking begins.
It’s all kicking off an email chain between the councillors, which reveals the difference of opinion and also, perhaps more interestingly, includes clear suggestions that the councillors know themselves that these meetings are perforated with ‘raucous’ point-scoring, rather than a search for compromise and shared knowledge. That in turn, raises the age old question of how they could make their regular three-hour get-together more meaningful.
Lib Dem whip Councillor Russell Eagling emailed councillors to say: “Full Council meetings are often raucous, angry events which are characterised by people arguing and often shouting at each other. This is not an environment likely to build confidence in the care the young people receive.” He added that the children should be taken “out of the hostile atmosphere of the full council meeting”.
Conservative leader Claire-Louise Leyland agrees: “Our young people deserve better than to be incorporated into a hostile meeting space without proper reflection, squashed into 10 mins between deputations.”
Labour backbencher Thomas Gardiner chipped in: “Many of us do behave quite raucously at full council meetings, but if this is a problem then it is in each of our hands as individual members to modify our behaviour if we want. This should not be an excuse to exclude our children from the formal meeting of all their corporate parents.”
Also unimpressed, former Labour council leader Nash Ali emailed: “You suggest that the Full Council meetings are raucous, angry events and not a good atmosphere for children to witness. What I recommend we do as Corporate Parents is start acting like responsible parents and not be raucous and angry at council meetings. The Full Council meetings are webcast for everyone, including young people to see. Rather than sensor [sic] young people why don’t we all agree to act reasonably.”
Cllr Eagling replied to Cllr Ali’s email with: “This manufactured outrage at my legitimate points is the best example I could hope for of why I don’t think that full council is the best place for this kind of debate.”