Parish Council Consultation – “A Waste of Money”?
In what was a breath-taking and unbelievably arrogant statement that revealed contempt for the people in Northampton at last night’s Northampton Borough Council meeting during a debate on Labours call for all residents who will be affected by the proposals to create new or change the areas of existing Parish Councils to be sent the full information before they vote in November, the Conservative Leader of the Council Councillor David Mackintosh (Rectory Farm) said,
“We will not waste money on consultation”
Labours amendment to a motion on Parish Councils said very clearly,
“The consultation process is both unfair and flawed, many residents will be unaware of the process due to lack of the sufficient ICT facilities. Therefore Council instructs the Cabinet to send direct mailing to all residents in the relevant areas the ‘Community Governance Review Information and Guidance ‘booklet”.
Incredible as it seems what the Borough Council Conservative administration in rejecting the call are saying is that the 40,000 thousand residents and council tax payers across Northampton who if they vote FOR the Conservatives Parish Council proposals and faced with an increase in their Council Tax of an average of £58 a year should find out for themselves what it means.
The excuse that was put forward by Cllr Mackintosh was that it would be too costly to consult with every resident affected!!!
Of course what he and his Conservative colleagues failed to mention is that at the budget meeting in February they rejected the Borough Labour Groups call to drop the policy and instead put £130,000 towards what is now turning out to be another policy debacle and fiasco.
If there isn’t enough money to carry out a fair and proper consultation then it is simply down to the abject failure to budget for it by the Borough Conservatives.
The problem for Councillor Mackintosh is that earlier in a written response to a question from Cllr Terry Wire (Labour St James) the Conservative Cabinet Member responsible for the Parish Council implementation, Cllr Brandon Eldred gave a clear and unambiguous undertaking when saying,
“I entirely acknowledge the need for fairness and equality in the way we consult and engage and I am responding to this requirement in this instance by making the consultation booklet available in hard copy to anyone FOR whom it is requested. I will also ensure requests for additional assistance are also responded to.”
It was when this was pointed out to the Conservatives with the suggestion that they had in effect agreed with the Labour proposal because I as a resident of Northampton as can any other residents “request a hard copy FOR whom (effectively on behalf of anyone) it is requested” that the Leader made his statement that they believe the consultation would be a waste of money.
The Conservatives are once again in complete chaos over what is a major policy that will if it goes ahead increase people’s Council Tax through what is called the Parish Precept by over £1.20 a week to provide services that the Borough Council has and intend to cut.
It is effectively the equivalent to an increase of over 130% a week in their Northampton Borough Council Council Tax Bill.
There may be a reason for Borough Councils attitude to consultation, that is that they have already decided how they are going to vote on this matter at the December Council meeting when it will be the Conservatives Borough Councillors who will ultimately decide on whether to create new or change the boundaries of existing Parish Councils and who if they choose to can and will ignore completely the outcome of the ‘advisory poll’ to be held on November the 15th.
Another example of the Conservative Borough Council Democracy 2012 “we know best and the public are there to be ignored and certainly not listened to” style wrote large?
Labour are Listening to Northampton and it is why we believe and will continue to campaign for every household affected by the Conservatives Parish Council proposals to receive the full consultation information so they can when voting in November make an informed decision on whether they want to vote Yes or No to having a Parish Council and the costs associated with them.
The Parish Council proposals themselves fall into two categories, firstly the implementation of seven new Parish Councils in Parklands Ward, Rectory Farm Ward, Sunnyside and Obelisk Ward, West Hunsbury Ward, Westone Ward, St James Ward and Hunsbury Meadow Ward, and secondly changes to current Parish Councils in Wootton & East Hunsbury PC, Collingtree PC, Hardingstone & Great Houghton PC and Upton PC.
So if you want to be fully informed and consulted here is a suggestion of what you should do,
If a resident contact the Conservative Councillor listed below who is sponsoring the Parish Council implementation in your area and ask for a ‘hard copy’ of the information booklet which includes the questionnaire.
If a member of the local resident association you should request ‘sufficient hard copies’ to deliver to all of you residents.
Parklands Ward – Cllr M Hallam (Conservative) email@example.com or 07788854294 or 01604 493228
Rectory Farm Ward – Cllr D Mackintosh (Conservative) firstname.lastname@example.org or 01604 236982 or 01604 837210
Sunnyside Ward – Cllr N Parekh (Conservative) email@example.com or 07773025455 or 01604 454160
Obelisk Ward – Cllr M Markham (Conservative) firstname.lastname@example.org or 01604 516840
West Hunsbury Ward – Cllr B Oldham (Conservative) email@example.com or 07891364643 or 01604 677794
Westone Ward – Cllr M Lynch (Conservative) firstname.lastname@example.org or 07977801301 or 01604 682525
St James Ward – Cllr S Patel ( Conservative) email@example.com or 07884166657 or 01604 701513
If an Independent Parish Councillor on a Parish Councils who have submitted boundary change proposals contact the Leader of the Council and ask for sufficient ‘hard copies’ for distribution to all of your constituents, or contact one of the sponsoring Borough Councillors.
Wootton and East Hunsbury Parish Council Cllr B Eldred (Conservative) firstname.lastname@example.org or 07578016374
Collingtree Parish Council Cllr M Hill (Conservative) email@example.com or 01604 874633
Hardingstone and Great Houghton Parish Council Cllr J Nunn (Conservative) firstname.lastname@example.org or 07947019491
Upton Parish Council Cllr A Bottwood (Conservative) email@example.com or 075000105713
Labour believe that only if there is a fair and equal consultation will any vote in November be valid and reliable, and if Northampton residents in the areas affected don’t engage and demand to be heard they may well wake up one morning next spring and find that their Council Tax Bill has increased by over £58 a year without any consultation while even more front line services have been cut.
Which is perhaps what the Conservative Leader of the Council is planning and why he made his outburst that,
“We (the Conservatives) will not waste money on consultation”
Why would you if the decision is already made?