In a quite stunningly undemocratic move, the current ruling coalition of Argyll and Bute Council forced through a vote at its last meeting on Thursday 26th April which tries to imposes the status quo of the discredited political management arrangements on whatever administration emerges from Thursday’s vote in the council elections.
Nothing could demonstrate as sharply the fog of unreality in the bunker at Kilmory – and nothing could reinforce so strongly the need for urgent answers from ‘Independent’ candidates to the challenge from voters which we have published today.
At the last meeting, the current coalition of the Alliance of Independents with the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, tabled a paper making recommendations on the future political management of the Council.
All councillors agreed that this was a matter for the new Council.
So when Helensburgh Councillor, James Robb, proposed ‘continuation to the next ordinary meeting of the Council, it was a shock to both audience and opposition members to hear the Council Leader, Dick Walsh, move an amendment ‘to recommend the new Council implements the proposals’.
Despite concerns being raised by Coalition councillors themselves, all went on to voted the proposal through en-bloc in support of the Council leader’s amendment.
The Council Leader’s amendment arose from the submission to council of the report of the Short Life Working Group that the Executive had set up to review the matter of political management arrangements. The full report is here: $PMAReportforCouncilApril2012draftv2.docxA
The Liberal Democrat, Independent and Conservative councillors believe that the current arrangement – whereby the Executive Committee, of only 16 of the 36 elected councillors, makes 80% of Council decisions – is ‘fit for purpose’.
Others believe that elected councillors should all take and be accountable for all council decisions.
It is this basic principle of accountable, open and transparent democracy that has become the defining issue in these elections.
It beggars belief that any outgoing administration should even attempt to constrain its successor in such a bald way, by dint of current force majeure.
Should the current coalition – or its leading group, the Alliance of Independent Councillors, survive in power, it will be their prerogative to implement the recommendations of their working group in this matter.
However, that it should make so naked an attempt to hogtie the next administration now, would appear to be an admission that it may not survive the election and is making a last ditch and vindictive attempt to confine its successor – with Argyll left to bear the collateral damage.
Will new Independent candidates contemplating their possible election be prepared to commit to supporting this voted recommendation – even if they choose to remain on the cross benches?
Voters have an irrefutable have a right to know this in advance of casting their vote.