A Labour motion caused confusion and contradiction as Liberal Democrats found excuses not to support it, whilst Conservative Councillors put party politics aside to support Town Councillors of all parties being more informed about decisions taken by District and County that will affect the town and its residents.
The motion was put forward to the full Town council meeting on 6th December by Labour Councillor Gail Freeman-Bell and was seconded by Labour Councillor Terry Ledlie. It read as follows:
“The parishes surrounding Yeovil, i.e. West Coker, East Coker, Yeovil Without, and Brympton, all benefit from having regular reports from their respective District and County Councillors. In the last 18 months there have been no formal reports from either District or County Councillors to this body which disadvantages the people who are represented by it. This motion calls for a regular agenda item for reports to be given at the Town Council meeting by, as a minimum, a representative District Councillor and the County Councillors”.
Doing their homework
The debate was opened by Liberal Democrat Cllr Evie Potts Jones who said “All minutes are available on line and so councillors should do their homework”.
Speaking in support of the motion Conservative Cllr Purbrick said “online information was difficult to find, was incomplete and could not easily be interrogated”.
Further debate took place with comments from Liberal Democrat Councillors, many of whom also hold positions as County and District Councillors. These Councillors, who had clearly planned arguments against the motion, seemed confused as some either did not understand the motion or had not read it beforehand. They also contradicted each other with their responses. A number of them insisted that meetings would take too long if all District Councillors had to give reports, although this was not a feature of the motion.
The main argument put forward to oppose was “We are different to other Parish councils as we have a system of sub-committees”. Councillors were informed that District and County Councillors on committees would provide information when required!
However, comments also included the unrelated “The Cokers should have a report from their County Councillor but he doesn’t turn up since being elected as an MP, but still drawing his allowances” and the extraordinary “Jane Lock (Liberal Democrat County Councillor) doesn’t live in Yeovil”.
Wouldn’t provide report
Adding to the confusion one district councillor stated that if this motion were agreed he wouldn’t provide a report anyway. The debate had to be interrupted when the Chair listed County Councillors of Yeovil but had to be corrected by Cllr Ledlie as he forgot that Yeovil had an ex Liberal Democrat County Councillor who now serves as an Independent.
The motion was supported by Labour and Conservative councillors, none of whom sit of the District or Council councils. The motion was lost by 5: 10 (the chair abstained).
In an ironic twist there was a subsequent debate when Councillor Freeman-Bell informed Council that as a result of her request there would be a presentation by County Highways to the Council in March 2017. In this case the Liberal Democrat Councillors were enthusiastic in their requirements to be able to ask questions of the presenters, even though information is available online.
For further information please contact Gail Freeman-Bell, Secretary Yeovil CLP, on 07838 117774