Council’s duty to serve electorate

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I WISH to reply to Coun Barrie Crowther (News Post Leader, letters, May 26).

I feel Coun Crowther has misunderstood the information, or his siding on the matters was obscured to the actual occurrences within the meeting concerned.

As he rightly stated, a member of the public did actually attempt to approach a councillor at this meeting which was not correct.

At which point he should have been asked by the chairman to return to his seat, and advised accordingly that this was not correct.

What actually happened was that the councillor called for the member of the public be removed from the meeting.

It would appear that this, along with many other actions and contact between the council and their voting residents, lacks a degree of ‘customer contact skills’.

I did state that this was the first time that I had attended the annual Cramlington Town Council meeting, but I have actually had involvement in politics within my family for more than 30 years.

I therefore understand that the AGM is of ‘great importance’.

I also understand the need for a committee to discuss these proposed changes prior to the meeting.

I understand that the documents for the meetings should be received by all members in plenty of time – that is giving three clear days before the meeting; not including the day of the meeting or the day of receiving the papers, and this does not include weekends.

I also understand that the medium of e-mail to send this information cannot be relied upon as an effective method of actual receipt in these matters, and the reference made in the meeting that the information was on the town council website was only partly correct as it only had the basic agenda and no attachments of the documents to be discussed.

Therefore the council failed to adhere to this, and it was not the opposition showing a ‘dereliction of duty by not preparing themselves’, but the responsible person showing dereliction of duty by not ensuring the correct documentation had been received by all in the correct manner.

I note the comments stating that ‘the public have extended public question time to over one hour’ in the past.

My deduction from this is that the council are unable to control the meeting in a correct and clear fashion.

It would seem to me they are unable to answer questions fully and correctly, unable to act on the issues raised in a timely manner, and unable to signpost residents to the correct area to deal with the matter in question, otherwise there would not be a need for this timeframe.

Surely the council must see that if the public question time takes so long then there must be more reasons to this, other than it being the fault of the residents?

Surely they cannot think they are totally faultless?

I appreciate the council ‘has a duty to get things done’ and I must apologise if the ‘public’ are an interference, but the council has a duty to serve its electorate.

The ‘things’ they have to get done are what the residents want them to do, that is the idea of councillors/council, to listen to the residents and act on their behalf.

The vote may have been democratic on the night, but the process involved beforehand was not.

MR M SWINBURN

Cramlington