Sunday, 8 January 2012

Is there a democratic deficit in Cheshire West and Chester Council?

It is now easier to find democracy in your local town council, parish council or local voluntary groups than it is in Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Decisions appear to be taken within CWaC Council with no real consultation, debate, discussion or scrutiny.

Even the Cabinet appears to be no more than a front to hide the fact the the majority of decisions are taken by just a few people. One that could best described as an inner circle or cabal. Here is an example of how a cabal can use taxpayer's money to persuade other councillors to play ball.

CWaC Council as a whole is a now complete irrelevance because they are allowed  to make so few decisions. The reason for this appears twofold
1) Such decisions would normally be made in public and allow any member/s opposed to a decision to apply some accountability, scrutiny and democracy. Something the inner circle (controlling body) within CWaC Council appear to like.
2) If the full council was not allowed to make any decisions then CWaC Council's inner circle would not have a thin veneer of democracy to hide behind.
Look at some of the evidence from last year alone.

Sham consultations

Winsford Town Council says it is being left out of major decisions affecting the town

What’s going on with Lion Salt Works? [Northwich]

Democracy in action CWaC Council style

A council that cannot come to terms with freedom of information 

Putting pressure on our local press to bury bad news

Using defamation claims in an attempt to silence critics

Using gagging clauses to stop ex staff speaking out

From the above, together with many other events from last year, CWaC Council's inner circle appears to prefer to operate behind closed doors without any real accountability, full council scrutiny, involvement and without proper public consultation. One that also appears willing to try and bully critics into silence.

Council Leader Mike Jones "So I made it very clear to all the staff I come into contact with, including senior management conferences with question and answer sessions which I did in July 2008, that we were to create a new council which would have its own identity and we would build a new culture which would be our own way of doing things."

It would now appear that this new culture is not one based on a democratic model but one more akin to an Autocratic model.
Democracy in its purest or most ideal form would be a society in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.
Autocracy is a system of government in which supreme political power to direct all activities is concentrated in the hands of a one person or in this case a very small group of people.
As a result I would strongly argue that at the moment we have a serious democratic deficit in Chester and Cheshire West.

Especially when you take into account the auditors report regarding the sale of County Hall. "Cheshire West did not make their Counsel aware of a second valuation of the building and that both councils could have done more to involve local people in the decision to sell the building."

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