Monday, September 23, 2013

Local Member's Vote - Michael Green: " It worked in our favour and I think it strengthened local democracy. "

At last Wednesday Combined Community Council meeting Graham Vine asked the Chair, Dick Youngson:

“Could I ask perhaps the Highland Councillors to explain, there was something in the Nairnshire about the Highland Council trying to take away the local members vote. I’d like to really understand what was being said.”

Michael Green responded, “On planning matters we are quite unique in the Highlands and that seems to be something that is not desired We have a local members vote whereby ward councillors on a matter that affects them can come along and vote, as did Colin me and Laurie who are not on PED. It worked in our favour and I think it strengthened local democracy. There was a vote at the Council last week and it was decided on balance to take away the local member vote. I voted against that I thought it was vital we retained it but that’s gone. Fortunately it’s not taken away until the end of September so we got one last hurrah.’

A member of the public then asked for an explanation as to why it was taken away. Laurie Fraser then intervened:
“The reason was that officials backed by councillors felt that where you have a local member vote people could misunderstand and would falsely believe that you had predecided the issue before you went into the chamber. I can’t understand the logic, it went to a vote down political lines and we lost.”

Liz then said: “Well it came before the Council at the previous meeting and the Independents asked for a substitute member vote instead, so the paper was redrafted with that in mind and it came back and the Independents changed their minds and wanted to retain the local member vote.

Laurie than interrupted to say they wanted to retain the local member vote from the start.

Liz continued, “I think we are the only council in Scotland that had the local member vote and I think the legal advice was that it would have been, it was, inappropriate and they were saying that we could, there was be a perception that we could be, then already prejudged the application. Because as you go into a planning application you’re supposed to read the reports and do it on the day.”

Graham who asked the question then commented again, “So it seems the Highland Council has got fed up with local Nairn Councillors telling them to get back into their box and with SNP political support has taken away that right.

Laurie then added: “Well it was the LibDems as well, don’t forget, and the Labour.”


APTSec said...

I wrote to a councillor on this issue a couple of weeks ago and this is most of the reply.

"Thank you for getting in touch with me regarding the Local Member Vote [LMV], which The Council has voted to abolish by a large majority.

One of the major concerns expressed by Council officers with regards to the LMV was the scope for members to come under accusation relating to their conduct in requesting an LMV. This was a central argument in a paper authored by our Head of Planning, Malcolm MacLeod, which puts the case for the abolition of the LMV. Before this week, The Highland Council was the only Scottish local authority to allow these extraordinary to which I refer above - you can find here:


Graisg said...

@Cannon Fodder - Obviously you are very upset with Liz over this and other matters but your comment is perhaps a bit too strong.

Cannon Fodder said...

My comments were perhaps strong but valid, as the possible impact on Nirn is, perhaps Gurn is toeing the party line too....?

Graisg said...

"if this were an issue of legal propriety and good practice." you state Winston.
Well to be fair to the planning department it does seem to be the argument behind their reasoning - i.e.that a developer could come back with just legal grounds if a refusal is on the back of local member votes. I'm sure the planning department would have consulted with the legal department before making their suggestion.

Graisg said...

Here's the document
that sets out Malcolm MacLeod's reasoning on this issue.

APTSec said...

Apologies for some reason the link to the report that I was given did not copy across properly. I'll try again

Fingers crossed

Anonymous said...

Is anyone else slightly concerned that policy seems to be being decided by unelected Council Officials and not by Councillors? I would have expected this idea to have originated from an elected representative who represented a view of their constituents or party and which might even have been considered in a manifesto. So my challenge is: where did the idea behind this originate and if not from an elected member of the council should it not be thrown out? Do our members really accept the Council setting the direction of Policy - the Council Officials are there to serve not direct.