Green County Councillors Rachel Smith (Minchinhampton) and Eva Ward (Stroud Central) have slammed the decision by the Conservative-run Gloucestershire County Council to limit the ability of the public to ask questions. Proposed changes have meant that in the majority of cases members of the public will no longer be able to ask questions verbally on the day of meetings, but will instead be forced to submit written questions a full 7 days in advance.
Rachel Smith commented ‘It’s yet another example of the County Council administration scraping away at democracy. After the incinerator fiasco, and the problems encountered due to the lack of transparency there, I had hoped that the Council would be more willing to be open and engage with the public. With this decision they are in fact doing the reverse. Members of the public appear to be seen by some Councillors as a ‘thorn in the side’ rather than the people we’re meant to be serving.’
In an ironic move, the Council’s Open Contracting Advisory Group (which is discussing whether to make the Council’s outsourcing process fully transparent) also recently voted to hold its meetings in private.