Sheffield Green Party councillors are objecting to the ruling Administration’s proposal to reduce opposition in council meetings.
Sheffield Green Party welcomes plans to make council meetings shorter but objects to proposals from the Labour Group that reduce the chance for Opposition parties to have their say.
Proposals, outlined at September’ meeting, are to limit the number of motions on the agenda. At present, the Council’s constitution allows any councillors to put forward motions but the effect of the new proposals is to stop the Green councillors putting any motions at all to the September council meeting.
Upholding the rules in the constitution, the Greens have put forward two motions – one of them about upholding the constitution.
Cllr Douglas Johnson said,
“The council is being asked to vote on limiting motions to no more than four. Two of these are reserved for Labour – originally they wanted three – so this stops all opposition groups from being able to put forward their own motions.
“This has a far bigger impact on opposition groups who have much less opportunity to set out their alternative ideas for how the council should run.
“Although there will be more discussions before the constitution is formally changed, we think the Administration has a duty to be open and clear about the effect of their proposals.
“Opposition councillors have a crucial role in scrutinising the ruling Administration and must object to attempts to close this down.”
Cllr Alison Teal added,
“I am concerned the new meeting format will limit the councillors’ and public’s opportunities for exploring alternative visions for Sheffield.
“A far better way to increase public engagement in council meetings is to support the Greens’ long-standing call to broadcast meetings online so that everyone can see what is being said in the name of the people of Sheffield.”
1. The council agenda is at http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=6691
2. Sheffield Green Party’s motion to council is:
Proposed by Cllr Douglas Johnson; seconded by Alison Teal
Importance of constitution
That this council
- Believes in the rule of law
- Notes that the UK has a long and proud tradition of organising society on rules of law and not on arbitrary decree; and that constitutions and agreed rules of procedure are essential for democracy to function
- Notes the Members Working Group has had several constructive meetings about improving the operation of full council, including through broadcasting, and will continue to work up options
- Believes, therefore, in the need to safeguard democracy by scrutinising proposed changes to the council’s own constitution very carefully and ensuring that any changes comply with the constitution itself.
3. The Administration’s publicity for the changes is at: http://www.sheffieldnewsroom.co.uk/councilmeetings/