Today Jeff Stafford from Havering Cyclists writes in the Havering Daily.
Havering Cyclists, along with Havering XR, Havering Friends of the Earth and Romford Quakers were all delighted when asked if they would like to have five minutes each, to speak at the Special Overview & Scrutiny Board meeting on Tuesday evening (7th December), via Zoom. This meeting had been called to deal with a “Call In” by six Councillors from opposition groups, who were unhappy about this CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION PLAN which had been presented to the Full Council a couple of weeks ago.
There are 16 Council members on this ‘Board’, 8 are Conservatives and the other 8 are representatives of all the other groups which make up Havering Council. We were all asked to attend and presented evidence to the Board on how this Climate Change Action Plan could be improved. If the meeting accepted our input then it would have gone back to the Cabinet, to consider adding these ideas to their document.
We all had delivered our 5 minutes of ideas to improve the plan and then the Leader of the Council had his opportunity to speak and an Officer of the Council did likewise, followed by three of the Councillors who had been signatories to the ‘Call In’.
So after roughly one and a half hours, a number of people had had an opportunity to speak for or against the Cabinet owned document but not one of the Conservative members had contributed until one of them moved that it was put to the vote, So, after a vote to determine whether Members were in favour of effectively ending the meeting, they, first of all, voted to agree that it could be voted on and then a further vote to consider that submissions of the aforementioned 4 groups could be voted on and if agreed, it could be sent back to the Cabinet to consider inclusion in there Climate Change Action Plan.
We, the invited guests to this meeting were firstly ‘staggered’ that one of the Conservative Members of this Board could move such a motion without making one single contribution and even more staggered when the Chair of this Board, first of all, abstained from the first vote and then proceeded to vote with the Conservative group on the second vote meaning that our efforts to contribute to this action plan document were dismissed.
So, the questions are:
- Was 9 pm past the Conservative Councillors bedtime and they were too tired to make a contribution?
- Were the Conservative members ‘whipped’ to just turn up and vote against any good ideas that might have emanated from this Overview & Scrutiny Board to save their Cabinet having to consider them and remember, Overview & Scrutiny should not have Members ‘whipped’ to vote in a certain direction by their Party, which is completely against the principle of Overview & Scrutiny?
- Is the Chair of this Overview & Scrutiny Board so subservient to the Conservative Administration that he is frightened to vote against them for fear of losing the generous allowance that he and members of his Group receive as ‘responsibility allowances’?
- Does this mean now that Democracy in Havering is now officially ended and the four groups mentioned, along with many, many others with great knowledge of how to achieve positive Climate Change outcomes are not going to get a chance to contribute to Havering’s Action Plan which, without us, is doomed to failure anyway?
We would be extremely interested in some answers to these questions.