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Surrey Tories refuse to listen

July 21, 2011 8:30 AM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems

The three unwise ToriesConservative run Surrey County Council has rejected proposals by the Liberal Democrats that would improve consultation and involvement of residents in the Council's decisions.

First, they rejected proposals to reduce the number of people required to sign a petition for it to be debated by Full Council from 20,000 to 10,000. The present figure has meant that only one petition, about on-street parking charges, has ever been debated by the Council.

Secondly they refused to debate a proposal for a consultation policy that follows best practice to reflect the wishes and needs of Surrey residents, pushing discussion to the Autumn. According to the County Council's Annual Governance Statement 2010/11, the County Council lacks a clear consultation policy. The Tory-run Cabinet had promised to introduce a consultation policy this month, but has failed to deliver it.

Finally they refused to back a Liberal Democrat amendment welcoming Government proposals to decentralise powers, in particular the ability to devolve responsibilities and resources to Local Committees and local communities, instead they backed the handing of more powers to local government.

Cllr Hazel Watson, the Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on Surrey County Council said; "Like the three wise monkeys; see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil, the Conservatives refused to listen to what Surrey residents have to say, see what their views are or communicate to local communities. All that the Conservative administration on Surrey County Council is interested in is putting more power into the hands of the Leader and a small group of Cabinet members."

"The present threshold for a petition to be a debated at Full Council is an excessive 20,000, one of the highest in the country. The County Council should be encouraging Surrey residents to be able to influence the decisions taken by the Council through petitions and genuine consultation."

"A consultation policy was meant to be in place by July 2011. It is now July 2011 and there is no sight of a consultation policy let alone one being implemented this month."

"It is partly the lack of a clear consultation policy that has resulted in decisions being made by the administration which have resulted in considerable public opposition, such as to the proposed on-street parking charges, closing the mobile library service and threatening 11 local libraries with closure."