Constitution change hailed as 'massive boost for democracy'

A CHANGE to the constitution of Wiltshire Council is being hailed as “a massive boost for democracy” by Liberal Democrat members.

The group was successful in persuading the council to change the rules about challenging decisions made by the Cabinet or leader.

Whereas before, it was only the chairman or any three members of the council’s scrutiny committee that could call in a decision for further examination, now any ten non-Cabinet members can vote for the move.

The Liberal Democrats originally proposed that any five members could order a call-in, but when the change was debated by the full council, it was agreed the number would go up to ten.

Under the call-in rules, the council’s scrutiny committee can go over the evidence on which the decision was based and then refer it back to the Cabinet for re-consideration or they can send it to the full council for a decision.

Cllr Jon Hubbard, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “While it may appear to be a relatively minor change, it is a massive boost for democracy.”

He said residents could lobby their local councillors in the knowledge they had some ability to challenge decisions.

Comments (7)

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2:50pm Wed 12 Feb 14

IanMcL says...

Cross party support, rather than one party.

All power in the hands of the few was not good at all.
Cross party support, rather than one party. All power in the hands of the few was not good at all. IanMcL
  • Score: 6

4:18pm Wed 12 Feb 14

Friend of the People says...

My reading of this is, that it is now harder to call in a decision made by the Cabinet. It seems you now need 10 members, whereas before hand three members could do it. When a decision is called in it can be challenged and changed. So now the public must lobby ten councillors. This definitely makes it harder.

Logically the more members you need to do this, the harder it is to achieve that. To say this is a victory for democracy is utter nonsense. It really seems that the Lib Dems are all mixed up on this and that they backed a Conservative proposal to increase the numbers and so make it harder to call something in and challenge Conservative rule.

The more you look at this and other matters, the more it seems that Lib Dem Leader, John Hubbard is getting into bed with the Conservatives. Is his party aware of the dangerous games he is playing?
My reading of this is, that it is now harder to call in a decision made by the Cabinet. It seems you now need 10 members, whereas before hand three members could do it. When a decision is called in it can be challenged and changed. So now the public must lobby ten councillors. This definitely makes it harder. Logically the more members you need to do this, the harder it is to achieve that. To say this is a victory for democracy is utter nonsense. It really seems that the Lib Dems are all mixed up on this and that they backed a Conservative proposal to increase the numbers and so make it harder to call something in and challenge Conservative rule. The more you look at this and other matters, the more it seems that Lib Dem Leader, John Hubbard is getting into bed with the Conservatives. Is his party aware of the dangerous games he is playing? Friend of the People
  • Score: 1

1:12pm Thu 13 Feb 14

IanMcL says...

FOTP - Previously, it was 3 cabinet members not ordinary members!
FOTP - Previously, it was 3 cabinet members not ordinary members! IanMcL
  • Score: 3

2:48pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Friend of the People says...

Sorry IanMcL, previously it was 3 Scrutiny Members not Cabinet Members. If Scrutiny were doing their job, they should call Cabinet decisions in - now it will be a lot harder.

Why do you think the Conservatives proposed to make it 10 members - surely not to make it easier to scrutinise their Cabinet, no, to make it harder.

What is worst is that the Leader of the Lib Dems willingly accepted the increase to 10 members. As mentioned earlier he is fully in bed with the Conservatives. Mark my word, this will come back to haunt him and the Lib Dems. I am just so surprised that councillors couldn't see through this ploy.
Sorry IanMcL, previously it was 3 Scrutiny Members not Cabinet Members. If Scrutiny were doing their job, they should call Cabinet decisions in - now it will be a lot harder. Why do you think the Conservatives proposed to make it 10 members - surely not to make it easier to scrutinise their Cabinet, no, to make it harder. What is worst is that the Leader of the Lib Dems willingly accepted the increase to 10 members. As mentioned earlier he is fully in bed with the Conservatives. Mark my word, this will come back to haunt him and the Lib Dems. I am just so surprised that councillors couldn't see through this ploy. Friend of the People
  • Score: 1

12:28am Fri 14 Feb 14

IanMcL says...

Both incorrect! It was three members of the scrutiny management Committee, so very limited.

The original proposal was to change that to five ordinary members. The Tories wanted that to be ten...obviously worried that members would
find much wrong along the way! That's why it was accepted as ten ordinary members.

Page 121 of the council agenda.
Both incorrect! It was three members of the scrutiny management Committee, so very limited. The original proposal was to change that to five ordinary members. The Tories wanted that to be ten...obviously worried that members would find much wrong along the way! That's why it was accepted as ten ordinary members. Page 121 of the council agenda. IanMcL
  • Score: 2

8:17am Fri 14 Feb 14

karlmarx says...

"A CHANGE to the constitution of Wiltshire Council is being hailed as “a massive boost for democracy” by Liberal Democrat members.
The group was successful in persuading the council to change the rules about challenging decisions made by the Cabinet or leader."

That's democracy?
And the local taxpayers who fund all of this, what did they say?
"A CHANGE to the constitution of Wiltshire Council is being hailed as “a massive boost for democracy” by Liberal Democrat members. The group was successful in persuading the council to change the rules about challenging decisions made by the Cabinet or leader." That's democracy? And the local taxpayers who fund all of this, what did they say? karlmarx
  • Score: 5

9:44pm Sun 16 Feb 14

cillean says...

I struggle to understand how 10 councillors triggering a call in in is more democratic than 3?????
The fact is that the Chair of Scrutiny or 3 councillors were able to call in the decisions of cabinet within a strict set of rules. The Management committee is consists of at least 3 Liberals and it allowed them to do a call-in. Hubbard’s ridiculous change has reduced the power of his very own Liberal Democratic councillors and now requires 10 to do the job that 3 could have previously done.
And to add to that I as chair am no longer able to use this power to hole the cabinet to account on matters of a serious nature.
Is it really that difficult for Jon to get just 3 of his Scrutiny Management committee Councillors to trigger a Call in???? I suspect that Jon’s displeasure at having to participate in a process that has a truly independent councillor as its Chair has blinded his mathematical and democratic judgement!
Sounds like a Liberal Democrat Turkey voting for Christmas to me!!!!
Simon Killane,
Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Management at Wiltshire Council.
I struggle to understand how 10 councillors triggering a call in in is more democratic than 3????? The fact is that the Chair of Scrutiny or 3 councillors were able to call in the decisions of cabinet within a strict set of rules. The Management committee is consists of at least 3 Liberals and it allowed them to do a call-in. Hubbard’s ridiculous change has reduced the power of his very own Liberal Democratic councillors and now requires 10 to do the job that 3 could have previously done. And to add to that I as chair am no longer able to use this power to hole the cabinet to account on matters of a serious nature. Is it really that difficult for Jon to get just 3 of his Scrutiny Management committee Councillors to trigger a Call in???? I suspect that Jon’s displeasure at having to participate in a process that has a truly independent councillor as its Chair has blinded his mathematical and democratic judgement! Sounds like a Liberal Democrat Turkey voting for Christmas to me!!!! Simon Killane, Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Management at Wiltshire Council. cillean
  • Score: 0

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