Do have your say!

September 3, 2008 1:07 PM
By Cllr David Kendall in Brentwood Gazette

Over the next week or so you should be receiving a copy of the borough council's Vision magazine. Take a look inside and you will see a consultation document on the cabinet system the Conservatives want to introduce to run Brentwood Borough Council.

This is a major change on how your council will operate and I would urge everyone to take part in the consultation process.

Does it matter what system of local government we have in Brentwood? And should local residents be bothered? Well if you care about having a strong local democracy where all your councillors have a voice then the answer to both questions has to be a resounding yes.

The consultation document highlights three options that residents can choose from. The Liberal Democrats support Option Three which is for maintaining the current committee/panel system. We believe that in the interests of local democracy it is vital that all members of the council continue to have an opportunity to openly debate and vote on the many issues facing our community.

The Conservatives want Option One which is for a leader and a cabinet. Under this system even more decision making powers will be put into the hands of a small clique of councillors and there will be no cross party debate or voting on many key issues affecting Brentwood residents.

The consultation document gives the impression that all councillors support the change to a new system but that is far from the truth. The Liberal Democrats have consistently spoken out against the change and so have the two Labour members. I asked if the council could organise a special public meeting so that residents could hear the views of the three party leaders and ask questions on what is proposed but Cllr Lewis the leader of the council said no.

It would seem that they are already trying to close down debate even during a consultation process so what will it be like if they get their leader and cabinet. There is no legal requirement for Brentwood to change the way it currently operates its system of local government so why change it now?

The Conservatives say the change will speed up the decision making process but past experience has taught us that "quick decisions don't always make good decisions". We believe the current committee system is the best model for a community of our size.

Cllr David Kendall

Liberal Democrat Group Leader

Brentwood Borough Council