Fringe Box



Letter: So This Is ‘Representative Democracy’?

Published on: 12 Oct, 2018
Updated on: 12 Oct, 2018

Cllr Richard Billington at the full council meeting this week

From John Ferns

In response to: Bad Tempered Debate on Transparency Gives Clear View of Bad Blood

What an unhappy and rancorous meeting [full Guildford Borough Council October 9, 2018].

This is “representative democracy” as Cllr Billington said, in all its glorious autumnal colours, but still, a number of steps behind the physical punch-ups witnessed in some Latin American parliamentary assemblies. This is no “Secret State”. We witnessed the verbal knives out against the independent and non-aligned group of councillors.

Cllr Billington asked why the public is not beating the doors down to participate.

Perhaps for two reasons, public involvement (ie speaking at a council meeting) requires notice in advance to be given and questions can only be asked if they are relevant to the agenda. Public involvement is limited to 30 minutes, in total, so it’s all a bit of a lottery that a member of the public will be able to speak if there are more questions than time allows.

And secondly, perhaps there is a weariness in the public mind that it is all a waste of effort to try and influence anything as either the “guv’ment says no”, or they fear the “Executive” have pre-determined the issue behind closed doors.

However, more and more residents are able to tune in remotely with the webcast facility, and despairingly witness the unedifying antics of some of their elected representatives, either at the time or later, on demand.

Thank heavens for an organ like The Guildford Dragon NEWS which is fearlessly bringing matters of concern into the public domain. Matters that resonate with the reasonable man on the “Clapham Omnibus” who daily witnesses the despoilation of the remaining green spaces in their area.

The battle in Ash and Tongham is now lost. But the other 87% of Guildford Borough is still up for grabs.

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