Tories on South Glos took the shocking decision last night (Wednesday 17th Feb) to cut local people out of decision making.
Not only did they vote to scrap the Area Forums, where local councillors came together with residents, charities and action groups, they also handed more decisions over to unelected bureaucrats.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Claire Young said: “When services are being slashed and tough decisions made, it’s more important than ever that local people can get involved. Area Forums were a time when local people could hold both officials and elected councillors to account. We swapped views on budget proposals, made decisions on grant funding, debated traffic schemes. This was a vital way for local residents to have their say on what mattered in their area – but not anymore.”
“At the same time, the Tories are slashing the number of decisions made by elected councillors in public and handing more power to the unelected bureaucrats to make decisions behind closed doors. Local people won’t find out until they’re a done deal and it’s too late to have any say. We tried to amend this so we would have the opportunity to discuss some of the decisions in public, but the Tories wouldn’t hear of it. The only thing they want to do is stick their hands up when the leader tells them to. Nobody wins from this. Local government just became less democratic, less open, less transparent. That’s the Tory-run council for you.”
She added, “The proposals look like they were drawn up on the back of an envelope. They have no idea, for example, how giving each of the 70 councillors a tiny pot of money to give out as grants will work, but it’s hard to believe it won’t be more expensive to administer than handling them through 5 area forums. It’s not saving money, it’s just cutting local people out of the loop. We hope people will come along to the final forums to have their say.”