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County Tories Continue to Ignore Public Opinion

July 28, 2008 10:25 AM
The three unwise Tories

The Conservative administration voted against allowing the public to petition a meeting of the Full Council

When the Surrey County Council Lib Dem group called for more opportunities for the public to get involved in local democracy, all their suggestions were opposed, despite being based on the Council's own survey of public opinion.

Colin Taylor (Epsom & Ewell SW) proposed a motion to Council at their meeting on 17th June calling for more Surrey residents to be involved in the decision-making process. The motion was prompted by the Council's 2007 Community Survey published last year and presented to the Executive in April 2008. The Survey showed that only 3 in 10 respondents believed they could influence decisions affecting their local area. More than a quarter would also like to be more involved in the decisions the Council takes.

Cllr Taylor's proposals included improving the way the Council consults residents, promoting the local Committees and the work of local councillors more effectively and providing fuller information, so residents can contact all councillors.

"A key issue, which we also raised when this Council was first elected back in 2005, was a call for Surrey residents to be able to petition Full Council" said Cllr Taylor. "At the moment the only places the public can ask direct questions or present petitions are at Executive, Select Committee or Local Committee meetings. Some members of the public do attend these meetings and ask questions, but not many. Would you, as a member of the public, want to take time off and travel to Kingston just to get a prepared answer from an Executive made up of just 10 councillors out of 80, all from one party - and in all probability the very people against whose decision your petition is appealing? Wouldn't you be more likely to engage if you could present your petition to the whole council?"

"Our request to allow the public to petition Full Council was turned down back in 2005 and sadly it was turned down again, along with all our other proposals" concluded Cllr Taylor.