Wll u lstn 2 us 4 jus 2 mins?

texttextCABINET meetings at Camden Town Hall often feel tick-boxy, rubber-stamping affairs. Despite the great lengths the public sometimes go to with their deputation, they are not always immediately aware that once an issue reaches this point, there is hardly ever any going back.

In fact, it’s hard to think of one real example where minds were changed during a meeting. The experience, all in all, often seems deflating for those less accustomed to how it all skips along.

It’s interesting to see the letter in the New Journal this week about how the punters on the public benches feel, watching all of this.

And the message seems to be, could you stop texting and tweeting for just a sec…

We’ve discussed that one before.

7 Comments on Wll u lstn 2 us 4 jus 2 mins?

  1. Interesting piece and a sad comment on local democracy in Camden. If the meetings of the Cabinet, licensing Committee and the full council had been less of a tribal rubber stamping exercise and more of an informed discussion, a better, less reactive policy may well have emerged as the result. Nonetheless, the deputations were a worthwhile exercise. They exposed the fallacious reasoning and misleading words behind Camden’s busking laws and put out the many clear alternatives into the public domain. We will now see what the courts make of Camden’s ‘light touch’ busking laws…

  2. That would be like asking a serial offender to tell other serial offenders to stop serial offending. It is well known that Cllr Sarah Hayward is a serial tweeter and has been stated elsewhere has tweeted more than any other living councillor in Camden “Tweeting” History.

    The real question is whether Camden has a provision for RSI (repetitive strain injury) to all its councillors form all that repetitive tweeting especially in the most important moments in a councillors busy lives such as the crescendo during the finals of Strictly Come Dancing or the Saturday FA League game. Perhaps that will be a FoI request that the one and only Richard Osley can make to Camden?

    I don’t think HS2 really gets much of a look in at all at key moments of high “tweeter” activity. I would suggest to C Thomas of Brook and Cranleigh TRA to get on the latest Camden sponsored Tweeter programme at the next Full Council meetings. Slow Mo’s can be downloaded on the Council Webcast of the proceedings.

    If only those web cams were of higher quality we could zoom into the mobile phone screens and get a true insight on whats really HOT in Camden political life!

    Tweet HAPPY CHRISTMAS and a very HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014

  3. I don’t agree – Cabinet members use technology to read documents, take notes etc – I can understand if it looked like we were doing something else but we actually weren’t.

    On the wider point I think you are mistaken about the function of Cabinet meetings – they are at the end of a process where the residents are consulted first (often more than once) decisions scrutinsed etc. There are differences of option expressed in public meetings like scrutiny but the press rarely attends these – but we have a review to look at how processes can be made better – certainly Full Council is pretty dire and time should be had for more debate on current issues.

    That said, the current system is outdated a mix of early 20th century meeting styles and something cobbled together by the Lib Dems in 2006 – it keeps decision-making going for the borough but needs a revamp to engage the public better. IMO in the future more, not less, technology should be used in our democratic processes.

    No comment on the hubris of our out-of-borough busk-all night-rights advocates, not sure they are the best example of democracy-in-action from what I’ve seen…

    • Richard Osley // December 12, 2013 at 8:10 pm //

      Wasn’t sure if you were responding to the blogpost or the comments, just to say though that your description of it being the ‘end of the process’ is kinda the same as ‘rubberstamping’, isn’t it?

      On the other points, surely there’s a way to be techy and forward thinking without the public deputations feeling they want to write a letter like this. Councillors for instance could tweet from meetings in breaks rather than when people are talking. This might mean everybody feels they have had the politicians’ full attention, without braking attempts by councillors to be more engaged and communicative online.

      • FYI I didnt actually have a mobile at the meeting, it was lost on a train somewhere between Croydon and Bedford the weekend before but we all use tablets, as I was, to read council papers. Given that I’m one of the few councillors to live by HS2, and was a participant in the debate (asked a question on DDD) I certainly plead ‘not guilty’ to the charge in the letter.

        The point about the Cabinet, without wanting to labour this further, is that at some point a decision will be taken and that this is the result of weighing up arguments and evidence for and against, and residents views expressed before, especially during Scrutiny. It is quite rare that someone deputes with information or a point which they hadn’t raised before. During this process people modify proposals and do change their minds. If there are profound disagreements then we talk them through and come to compromise positions like adults. I’m not sure what your alternative proposition is if you don’t report on the discussions held in public scrutiny meetings, although scrutiny is certainly less thrilling after the 2006 administration ended long-term panels which actively invited residents in to sit on the panel

        • Richard Osley // December 13, 2013 at 4:55 pm //

          In my opinion, the single-issue scrutiny panels were at times valuable at giving backbench councillors the chance to really investigate specific issues and come up with decent recommendations. Lots of the meetings were held in public and if you got the right issue and the right team, the public felt included. I recall some good cross-party working too. Actually, there could/should have been elements of that in the council’s prescriptive Fairness Commission Equality Taskforce.

  4. Gosh I can relate to what Mr C Thomas says, and some of those who contributed to your earlier discussion. Having sat in the public gallery throughout full council meetings in the hope of an intelligent discussion following a Councillors question and finding it was never reached because of some juvenile party political point scoring on an earlier question and having been part of a delegation to an executive sub committee and finding a year later that no one had even noticed that the most important pages in the matter under consideration were omitted in error – and none of the members voting on it noticed, I am tempted to join the ranks of those who see local govt as corrupt and pointless.

    If it is, then it is all out faults – we live in a democracy even if it doesn’t always feel like it.

    What would help is if you at the CNJ, could find someone in the mold of Michael White, Simon Hoggart, James Cameron to have a regular column which takes an objective view of the process. Would Councillors waste time scoring political points or tweeting banalities if they knew they would be exposed to a wider audience by someone they respected?


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