Give us back the right to address Huntingdon council
THROUGH the pages of your newspaper can I ask whether anyone else in Huntingdon has noticed that the town council has become less democratic since the election in May of this year?
Under the previous administration, when members of the public wished to address the council, or one of its committees, the only criteria were that the public session would last no longer than 15 minutes and no one person would speak for more than three minutes, without the agreement of the chairman of the meeting and that the topic being raised must be within the purview of the committee being addressed.
We now have a policy, revealed to me by the town clerk when I wanted to speak at a meeting of the Town Hall Project Board, where if the subject one wishes to raise is not on the agenda for the meeting in question, then members of the public may not raise the matter. The only way to achieve that objective is to raise the matter with a councillor and hope that he or she concurs with your view that it warrants discussion by the council or committee. Apparently, meetings were dragging on for too long as a result of councillors engaging with members of the public who had raised concerns and this was contrary to council standing orders.
May I remind councillors and council officers that they work for us, the electorate, and their sole purpose is to manage the delivery of local government for the benefit of us, the people who elected them in the case of councillors and pay their salaries in the case of officers. The town council does not exist to provide them with employment, either paid or voluntary, and the sooner they realise that the reason for their existence is to serve us, including allowing us to speak on any matters we view as important, the better.