The Lib Dem Council has taken the decision to effectively remove the rights of residents to call-in decisions of the Council. They moved from collecting 100 residents signatures to over 2,500 signature and all to be collected in 10 days.
Councils are changing and their decision is based on an old fashioned view that Councils make decisions and the public have no role in that decision making – they can be consulted but they can’t help take the decision. This is the wrong view of the role of residents in a modern and highly connected world. This is not only a retrograde step but an unwelcome change at a time when Councils should be devolving more power to people rather than confiscating their right to have a say.
In response to this, the Conservative opposition is left with little alternative but to take control of the situation.
The Opposition has successfully argued that the powers of call-in for decisions should be retained by Councillors – the constitution still allows 9 members to call-in a decision of the Council for review. The Conservative Opposition has therefore agreed that we will use that power to establish a new residents call-in procedure, run by the Conservative Opposition. The Council system was not perfect and so changes have been made including the requirement to fill out a standard form.
How will the call-in work?
The Opposition will trigger the Councilor call-in process when 100 signatures from members of the public (living or working in the Borough) present a petition within 9 days of the date of the original decision, as determined by the Council. Signatures can be submitted either through an electronic petition scheme or in writing. However, all names and addresses need to be submitted, together with the call-in form, by 5.30 pm, 9 days after the date of the meeting at which the decision was made.
The following decisions are excluded from this call-in process (in line with the Lib Dem constitution)
- those relating to licensing or planning applications or the exercise of other regulatory functions;
- those relating to matters where the Council has no discretion – for example, a decision which gives effect to the Council’s fulfilment of a statutory obligation;
- those relating to the recruitment, discipline or dismissal of individual staff;
- those considered urgent and as such subject to a Council waiver form as laid out in their constitution;
- those which have already been called-in during the previous six months (including decisions which have broadly the same effect as those previously called-in during this period); and
- those which will be approved or determined by full Council
The call-in must identify the decision to be called in and the reason(s) for it being called-in. It must contain sufficient information to enable Members and Officers to adequately prepare for the review of the decision at a meeting of the Scrutiny Panel.
The grounds for a call-in are either that:
- the decision is inconsistent with established policy;
- there was a failure to meet statutory consultation requirements;
- there was a failure to consider a material consideration;
- there was a procedural impropriety and/or insufficient legal or financial advice was obtained; or
- significant new relevant issues have been raised which were not previously considered by the decision making Committee.
Whilst this process is one the Conservative group has adopted there is no guarantee that the Lib Dem Council will not reject the member call-in for any other reason it wishes to construct. The Conservative group do reserve the right to decline a call-in but there is a commitment that even if the decision is one which the Conservative Group agrees that will not prevent a call-in.