Cllr Julia Baker-Smith shares this latest news on behalf of the nine Island Independent Councillors. Ed
The Island Independents have called Wednesday a dark day for Island Democracy.
In their first action as the ruling administration since the election the Conservative Party have removed the democratic processes of openness and transparency put in place by the Independent led Council over the last four years [read coverage of the meeting].
Erosion of democratic process
This includes the removal of the ability of Councillors from across the chamber to ask questions of the Cabinet Members and Leader at the full Council meetings, a practice that has taken place for many years, the offering of committee chairmanships to opposition members to ensure proper scrutiny of the ruling group’s policies and a reduction in the number of meetings and the powers of the full council.
Worse even than the ‘Pugh days’
Cllr Julia Baker-Smith Leader of the Island Independent group said,
“Wednesday was a dark day for democracy on the Isle of Wight. This erosion of the democratic process is worse even than the ‘Pugh days’. The Conservatives are effectively silencing the opposition by removing the opportunity to ask questions of the Leader and his Cabinet on their policies. The suggestion that questions will only be posted online is quite frankly ludicrous and should be supplementary to council debate, not in lieu of it.
“This is local government, not twitter!”
‘Deeds, Not Words’
Cllr Baker Smith went on to say,
“Just 40% of Islanders who voted selected a conservative candidate, the rest of the votes split among the opposition groups and parties. This move by the Conservatives effectively silences 60% of Islanders and goes to show once again how our outdated electoral system leaves the majority without a voice.
“While the lively debates in the chamber have been criticised by some in the past, at least there WAS debate and the opportunity for all Councillors to speak up for Island residents. The Conservatives make a lot of noise about inclusivity and cross party working, yet their actions are quite the opposite and a complete shutdown of any cross party working so valued by the Island Independents.
“100 years since the suffragette movement their moto still rings true ‘Deeds, Not Words’.”
Image: © With kind permission of Allan Marsh