May is when all the councils reorganize. Mayors get elected, committees too, and in the reorganization of East Devon’s planning arm–The Development Control Committee–disaster struck!
The Law of the Land states that any committee with legal powers must be politically balanced.
That sounds like a good idea don’t it? It prevents any one political party that happens to be in power taking over complete control of everything. As all the really important business of government (whether at national or county level) is done in committees a fair assignment of seats on a proportional basis sounds democratic and probably is…
Sorry to bore you with all this but it’s important so please stay with me. The line up for the New Planning Committee of 15 members is 9 Conservatives, 5 LibDems and 1 (One!) Independent.
Ah! But if now the two local Independents, Lesley and Jed, step up to say their piece (and vote their vote) the political balance switches to 9 Con 5 LibDem and 3 (Three!) Independents.
Until this May, all members had accepted this since it seemed important for all local Members to be able to fight their corner. But this is only possible if it is unanimous (thus guaranteeing even the little man a voice) and this year (Shock! Horror!) One member (One!) voted against his own party and against this fair-play system.
Today, and for the next six months at least, Lesley and Jed do not have a vote in the one area of local government that they campaigned for. I’m typing this out hoping it’s clear, but I have to tell you, to the local voters that put us in, it is anything but clear.
Still, we soldier on, reduced now from voting on local planning issues to a sort of inspired lobbying of actual voting members.
I told you there would be sad stuff as well as the good news bits.
So it goes.
This material ©Jed Falby 2004