Tremendous and adverse affect
PUBLISHED: 10:31 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:34 25 May 2010
DURING my year as Weston s Mayor (2007/8) I had occasion to visit Yeovil Town Hall for their mayor-making.
DURING my year as Weston's Mayor (2007/8) I had occasion to visit Yeovil Town Hall for their mayor-making.
On the wall was a framed 'definition' of a town council and I was so taken with it that I wrote it down.
It read: - "(A town council is) a democratic structure which serves the interests of the town and is directly accountable to its people."
Last week's Weston Town Council (WTC) meeting was especially called to discuss North Somerset Council's proposal to buy an office block in Clevedon to re-site hundreds of their employees - the majority of whom presently work in Weston.
Clearly such a transfer of office staff out of Weston would have a tremendous and adverse effect on the economy of many town centre businesses and the majority of town councillors voted to ask North Somerset Council (NSC) to delay the scheme until other alternatives could be fully explored.
As I said at the time, today's economic situation makes such a purchase a buyer's market so there is no need for a hasty decision.
However, as you reported and listed, seven of the 'dual-hatted' councillors (those who sit on both NSC and WTC) abstained from the vote on the pretext that they would be barred from the NSC debate if they were seen to have decided the issue at a previous meeting of WTC. This despite the town clerk's expressed professional opinion that this would not be the case and despite the fact that he was previously NSC's principal law officer.
It was very clear from what some councillors said that they were at a town council meeting speaking as North Somerset representatives. That, to my mind, was inexcusable.
It is surely high time that councillors with a party line to follow are not allowed to sit on both councils. Additionally, those Weston councillors who sit on NSC should surely be representing Weston's interests. If they are not, just who are they representing? The people who voted for them or some wider party interest?
Of course, to avoid candidates offering themselves for election to both councils there needs to be far more people willing to stand. Being a councillor is not rocket science. It just needs people who are willing to give a reasonable amount of time and have the best interests of Weston at heart. And if you have an independent frame of mind, so much the better.
Elmsleigh Road, Weston