Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ending the culture of secrecy at the City Council

I was at a meeting to discuss 'constitutional reform' at the Council this week. This was nothing more glamorous than discussing possible changes to the rules on how the Council runs itself, but I did have one suggestion that didn't seem to find much favour with the other parties.

Currently, the official minutes of Council meetings don't indicate which way individual Councillors have voted on the issues discussed. I think this should change - people should have the right to know which way Councillors have voted on individual issues.

Websites like They work for you and the Public Whip have done wonders for the accountability of MPs, by making information about how they have voted on particular issues much more readily available - the same information should be available for local Councillors. I understand Councillors can request that how they voted is recorded in the minutes - perhaps it is time for me to exercise this right on a regular basis.

There was also some discussion about recording and filming Council meetings - I agreed permission should be granted where requested, but I think we should go one better and make webcasts available of meetings.

I have argued in the past for much better transparency and openness in all aspects of how the Council runs itself and how it spends taxpayers money - but despite a significant motion being passed by the Council, we are still waiting for any suggestion of action to deliver the changes required - in all these cases, the culture of secrecy at the City Council needs to end.


Steve Tierney said...

I find that really interesting.

At the County Council we are presenting "enjoying" a debate with our Lib Dem colleagues in which they accuse us of secrecy.

See this load of nonsense for a fine example:-

Now the County Council are actually extremely transparent. The whole silly political point-scoring exercise is about the fact that Policy Development Groups are not open to the public (everything else is!) I could go into why this is a good thing, but I dont want to bore your readers.

Suffice to say, its fascinating that you can't even get your Lib Dem colleagues at City Council to put their names to their decisions and yet their county reps are so hot on transparency.

Dual standards?

Andrew Bower said...

Hi Steve,

Richard Normington has also blogged on Lib Dem double standards in Cambridge.