‘Anti-Democratic Island Conservatives Prevent Debate’, say Independents

Last night Cllr Barry Abraham called on an obscure procedural rule to stop any debate, proposed by Independents councillors, on concerns over possible breaches in council constitution in connection with the awarding of the roads PFI contract.

silence-button-shawnzleaLast night’s full council meeting was quite ‘lively’, as you may have seen from our live coverage on Twitter. This in from the Cllr Bacon, Independent councillor for Brading, St Helens and Bembridge, in his own words – Ed.

Wanted debate on possible breeches in constitution
At last night’s Full Meeting of the Isle of Wight Council a motion was to be debated concerning the awarding of the PFI contract and the effect of possible connections with the controversial planning application to build an Asphalt Plant on the banks of the River Medina.

The motion brought by Independent Councillor Chris Welsford sought to highlight problems with the Council’s approach which mean that, in relation to the PFI contract and future deals, Councillors may be prevented from receiving vital information that may raise concerns over the viability and performance of such contracts.

Blocked
Instead of allowing the debate, by using an obscure procedural rule, the ruling Conservative Group halted the debate, avoided a vote and also barred Independent Councillors who had already indicated a wish to speak from being able to say anything. This included the seconder of the motion, Councillor Jonathan Bacon.

Bacon: Suggests “they have something to hide”
Councillor Bacon said “This is ridiculous. The Conservative administration cannot face having any form of sensible debate about its approach to running this council. To block debate and discussion not only suggests they are undemocratic but also that they have something to hide. It is no wonder they are now a spent political force as further illustrated by their dismal performance overall in the council chamber last night”.

To enable members of the public to form their own view, Councillor Bacon has released his notes (On The Wight will publish later – Ed) of what he wished to say at the Council meeting but was barred from doing so.

‘Dismal approach’
Councillor Bacon said “In releasing the speech I intended to make I hope it will shown just how dismal the approach of the current Conservative leadership is to both the procedure and substance of democracy and the interests and concerns of Island residents.

Thursday, 17th January, 2013 9:15am

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Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Roads, Top story

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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54 Comments on "‘Anti-Democratic Island Conservatives Prevent Debate’, say Independents"

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Cynic
Who was it that once termed Conservatives as the “Nasty Party”? Oh yes- their very own Theresa May – then Party Chair now Home Secretary, so she should know what she is talking about. At the Tory Party Conference in October 2002 she stated “There’s a lot we need to do in this party of ours. Our base is too narrow and so, occasionally, are our sympathies.… Read more »
Jake_Gully
Never heard of Cllr Abraham before, but seems to have been a Canute like figure trying to hold back the rising tide of criticism against the current IW Council leadership. His comments made in support of Cllr Cousin were perhaps unfortunate. Using arcane procedure to stymie legitimate debate is clearly undemocratic. I doubt that this action was undertaken under his own initiative. The Council must remember that… Read more »
sam salt
Let’s hope that those of us that care about the Island remember this in May. Too often the likes of Chris and Jonathan have been blocked from representing residents. We should all learn a lesson here and vote Independent come May. I will. It does seem to me that members of the ruling party are too interested in blocking questions rather that providing services that we, the… Read more »
Cynic

Perhaps the cabal regard it as OK to stifle debate on the grounds, using the “Abraham Standard”, no dissenting councillor was taken out and shot?

Robert Jones
Barry Abraham is a nice enough chap, when he’s not surrounded by his gang, but no one has ever accused him of possessing a brain like a planet. Or if they have, it would have been a very small planet; more of a rock… So I doubt that he thought up this “obscure procedural rule”, or was – despite his years of experience on the council (translator’s… Read more »
Bystander

Could this be why they wont grit the roads? To deter the electorate from attending Council meetings and witnessing the dead men walking making a mockery of democracy

steve s

It’s in the constitution.
Procedure rules for the regulation of proceedings. 14. (10)
But why would somebody actually want to us it in a democratic council? :-s

steve s

*use :-$

Cynic
Which subsection of 14 (10) was used? Maybe there is a case for a report of maladministration to the Local Government Ombudsman? http://www.lgo.org.uk/ ……………………………….. Para 14 (10) is as follows. 10. Motions which may be moved during debate When a motion is under debate, no other motion may be moved except the following procedural motions: (a) to withdraw a motion; (b) to amend a motion; (c) to… Read more »
Sally Perry

Paragraph (c) was cited by Cllr Abraham

Cynic

Name names.

Who proposed and seconded the motion under para 14 (10) c?

Who voted in favour?

Who voted against?

Sally Perry

19 Conservatives voted in favour of Cllr Abraham’s motion. It wasn’t a named voted, but once the council minutes are issued you’ll be able to see who was there. Not sure who seconded it as there was quite a kerfuffle at the time. Will check my recording.

Sally Perry

Just listened back to recording and it is very hard to hear who seconded the motion because so many people were talking at the time. IWC minutes are usually out in a few days time. It’s worth noting that there was a long pause before someone offered to second it.

Cynic

Thanks Sally- good job as always!

Geoff Lumley

It was David Pugh who seconded it

James Luke

So as the majority party, the Conservatives can use this rule to kill debate on any subject that makes them uncomfortable?

Definitely a case for a complaint to the LGO.

steve s

I think you can probably guess who voted for it, can’t you? ;-)

Sciolist

David Pugh? No!

tryme

Is this the way things carry on nationally, too? If this is democracy, I’m not sure I like it… Can we do something else please?

Cynic

I note the current Constitution is version 5.12 issued January 2013.

Anybody know what changes were made- if any- to Constitution version 5.11?

Stewart Blackmore
Robert, I was at the meeting and it was Pugh who seconded it. As you say, Barry is not the sharpest tool in the box and this was very obviously a premeditated action, probably with the connivance of the Chair who sought, and got, the approval of Davina Fiore. I don’t know what it’s going to take to expose this rotten administration for what they are; they… Read more »
Sciolist

They are frit.

Barry normally reads from a script. We can assume this was handed to him – the party are running scared. Their incompetence and failure are overwhelming them.

Cynic

Is David Pugh standing for the 2013 IWC election or not?

Bystander

I don’t see how he could possibly risk it, given how he is blamed and disliked by so many for his arrogant ignorance. Being unceremoniously booted out and sent scuttling off with his tail between his legs back to the paper-clip counter would hardly aid his aspirations of meteoric rise within the Nasty Party.

James Luke
Totally unacceptable! In recent weeks there have been a number of serious issues impacting Islanders lives that have distracted the public from the PFI. Clearly the Ferries and Wightlink in particular are very serious issues and I share everyone’s concern about these problems. However, the PFI is potentially the most serious imminent issue facing Islanders. I say that because of the shear cost of the programme, the… Read more »
Sciolist

I think the Tories will be long gone when the PFI unravels. The new administration and its successors will be picking up the pieces for decades.

The same applies with education, children’s and social services etc. I wonder what support a party re-opening libraries and loos would get?

Don Smith

Dream on -This is Tory island.

Chris Welsford

Democratic government works correctly on trust. Only with the good will and cooperation of those in power, can it function. Abuse of the power granted to the majority by democratic means is what we witnessed last night.

James Luke
Fully agree Chris and thank you for your attempt! We cannot let this rest and I really hope that you have the strength to continue the battle. Talking to friends and family I know that the majority of people haven’t paid that much attention to this issue. When they hear what is going on they are invariably shocked. It’s really critical therefore that awareness of this issue… Read more »
Robbo
So the independents now speak with one voice. Surely that is not what being ‘independent’ is about? Shouldn’t they each be issuing their own press release? The more you look at it, the more they act and behave like a political grouping. I have this feeling that more and more are being taken in by this enormous con-trick. And what is anti-democratic about the Tories winning a… Read more »
Cynic

@Robbo “And what is anti-democratic about the Tories winning a vote on something that is a common constitutional clause in many organisations?

If Robbo cannot distinguish between “constitutional manipulation” and “abuse of process” there is not a lot to be said further.

wightywight
@Robbo: Enormous con trick….? Hmm, good to hear conservative supporters shuffling their feet uncomfortably as the new Political Force takes shape and moves into power after May… Of course you will not like the *organisation* of Political alternatives to your beloved – yet disgraced and spent – political masters. Only with a cohesive campaign can there be any chance of dislodging this disgraceful conservative administration. If that… Read more »
Robbo

Frankly my dear, you need to calm down!

James Luke
The report below states that democracy in the UK is in decline due to the power of large corporations (e.g. Eurovia / Meridiam), politicians that do not represent the views of the electorate (e.g. look at this story) and voter apathy! http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jul/06/british-democracy-decline-report I believe that voter apathy is a serious problem and will confess that I am very guilty on this point. I did not take much… Read more »
wightywight
@Robbo: Calm down….? are you on something? You asked what was “anti-democratic about the tories winning a vote…..” In relatively concise terms I have told you what is NOT democratic about the whole matter and the use of specific clauses in the constitution which have been used inappropriately and which threaten the very fabric of democracy in our local assembly…. ..and your response – quite ineffectively –… Read more »
tryme

How sad that Robbo sees a group of individuals choosing to work contructively together, & heartily resents it!

Sometimes decent people get together on particular issues, Robbo, just because they think it’s the right thing to do. And not because they have been whipped into it. How weird is that?!!

Robbo

How sad that some people have nothing better to do than trawl over the entrails of a disagreement. I disagree with all the ‘On the Wight’ fawning over the so-called merits of the ‘independents’; get over it

wightywight
@Robbo: Quote: “How sad that some people have nothing better to do than trawl over the entrails of a disagreement” Another interesting observation. If you decide to set your own measure of democracy, from those elected to serve the population at large, so low then of course you will disagree. If you consider democracy to be of some importance – do you? – you would not be… Read more »
RJC

Rules. “for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men”

steve s
This is quite interesting: “(b) If a motion to proceed to next business, or that the question now be put, is seconded and the Chairman thinks the item has been sufficiently discussed, he or she will give the mover of the original motion a right of reply and then put the procedural motion to the vote.” I’m not sure Cllr Scoccia (who, presumably, thought the item had… Read more »
Stewart Blackmore

She didn’t give him the right of reply, you’re correct.

Cynic

What are the termination clauses in the PFI contract?

Perhaps Independent councillors and candidates should be exploring them and including a termination policy in their manifestos?

Man in Black

No surprise to see this tucked away on page 49 of the IWCP.

Jill Russell
Such procedural shenanigans are obviously part of a general effort to sweep as much as possible of any potential bad news under the carpet this side of the elections. Thanks to the fearless reporting by IWCP combined with voter apathy/ignorance if the Conservatives get re-elected we should brace ourselves for a slew of extremely unpopular decisions as soon as the election is over. Most of the money… Read more »
James Luke

Disappointing that the IWCP didn’t report any of this last Friday. The Council Meeting was Wednesday evening so I would have thought there was sufficient time to make the Friday paper. The number of comments on this article (and associated articles) suggest that this is a very hot topic.

James Luke

To correct myself – I’ve just read “Man in Black”‘s comment and understand that this was reported …. on page 49. Somehow I missed that!

James Luke

A letter in the IWCP by Gary Taylor of Ryde has called for a “sensible debate” on the supply of asphalt to the PFI roads programme. Is this the same Gary Taylor who was part of the administration that repeatedly blocked debate on this very subject?

James Luke
tryme
I don’t know what anyone would be worried about, this is clearly a ‘man of the people’ speaking, pleading for common sense and democracy! I’m guessing that if the plant was put in at Medina we would see the same kind of “rigorous conditions and adherence to the strict regulations” that elsewhere we find in wealthy companies and individuals undermining the principles and intentions of our taxation… Read more »
Bystander
Given that Gary Taylor now appears so keen to see a job done properly its a pity that he was so p*ss poor as a councillor for Ryde South that the Tories didn’t let him stand in that ward again, knowing full well that he would be ditched at the first opportunity by the electorate he let down given that he was no more that a flaccid,… Read more »
Island Monkey

I bet it’s one and the same. Obviously the Tory come-back is well under way.

Ex Councillor Mazillius is busy having his say too, on another Island news site.

Be warned, the Tories haven’t gone away, they are not even pausing.

James Luke

I hope the Councillors whose original motion was blocked respond in the County Press. Pugh and Giles repeatedly denied any link and talked about a quasi-judicial process. This letter suggests otherwise!

Don Smith

Sorry to stray from the topic.

Two gay Tory men get married {Tie the knot].

One says to the other. “Which one of us will draw the widows pension when the time comes?”

tryme
I didn’t take you to be a social security afficionado, Don! It would be ‘widower’s’ pension if anything, of course, but I don’t know if that has been put in place for gay marriage. It may be the case that most people, including gays, weren’t thinking about marriage as an issue, but now the government have, it now seems the obvious next step. The more people in… Read more »