Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Secrecy and behind closed doors decision making

Secrecy and behind closed doors decision making goes on all the time at Hartlepool Council and ordinary back bench councillors are deliberately kept in the dark! That is the only conclusion I can draw from the way “Pink Papers” are still being used in Hartlepool Council.

I have had an on-going battle with Hartlepool Council in my efforts to get access to information. As an elected member of Hartlepool Council I try to represent my constituents to the best of my ability but am frustrated in this aim when I am denied access to information about what is happening. The whole debate around the granting of the Freedom of Hartlepool to certain individuals is obscuring an even more important issue, namely the use of Pink Papers in Hartlepool Council to block openness and transparency and keep not only the people of Hartlepool in the dark but also to stop Councillors such as myself finding out what goes on.

Pink papers were used to stop me finding out about the on-going re-organisation of Hartlepool Council and I have repeatedly been denied access to other information I have requested. I am now at the point where I am making requests under the Freedom of Information Act in an attempt to get access to Hartlepool Council papers. It should be unbelievable to Hartlepool Residents that an ELECTED COUINCILLOR is being forced to take these steps to get information and shows how secrecy is a way of life at Hartlepool Council! If an elected councillor can’t get information then what chance does a member of the public have?

The Council meeting in December did acknowledge that Pink Papers needed to be more widely available and so approved copies of the papers to the Chair of Scrutiny Co-ordination Committee and the Chairs of the four Scrutiny Forums. A move by myself, and supported by some other independent thinking Councillors, to have papers also sent to the leaders of the Groups on the Council (Labour, Conservative, Lib-Dem and Admin) was blocked. The pink papers are now available to the five Chairs, who all happen to be Labour Councillors, but not to anyone else. Pink papers are therefore fully available to the Cabinet and just under half the other Councillors, the Labour half, the rest of us are still cut out of the loop.

Democracy in action? Not in Hartlepool ? Not under this Mayor and the Labour Group.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Steve,
    We have never met, but I have replied to you once before,I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and everyone else who may read this little Billy-Do.As an elected councillor I think it is disgusting that YOU are denied information you require, but you are not ALONE, I have been requesting answers and information since August 2008,without success, Yesterday Thursday 24th December, 2009 I did receive a reply to my last request,it contained many mistakes,including verbal conversations I have held with so called Council Officials in my home which bear no relation to what I actually said, they are in complete contrast to both my wife's recollections of these verbal conversations and my own ?
    More than anything, this saga reveals the arrogance of those who now run Hartlepool Borough Council,
    They can target you as they they see fit,If you have no family or friends in positions of influence, then you really are on your OWN.

    I think it is time we ALL remembered that these Local Councils are elected bodies, they are elected to serve US primarily to run the the local infrastructure and NOT for us to be dictated to. It is time to remind all local councillors of this, and back up our anger against their Disgraceful conduct in the next local elections.