Wednesday, 10 August 2011

More "Save the Prom"

The save the prom group were easily out manoeuvred by the civic centre bosses in their attempt to get option 4 removed by calling for a motion in council and a debate. The move has been rejected due to procedural problems. Well unfortunately that was always going to be the result since public question time is not the route to get a debate onto the agenda.

The route for a motion at council is under Part 4 Clause 12 of the Constitution of Hartlepool Council. This requires a notice of motion to be served, signed by at least 5 members, seven clear days before the date of the meeting. The Headland has three councillors? So there are three of the five (well maybe two!) and I'm sure three suitably supportive others could be found. The motion must then go on the agenda. I'm surprised that the chairman of the group, who is reportedly a lawyer? isn't aware of the need to follow procedure?

Actually public question time can be very useful but you again need to know the tactics. The question put down in writing a week in advance is the key but it only unlocks the door, it doesn't kick it open. This submitted question will receive a prepared answer and won't go anywhere. It is the supplementary questions, which DON'T have to be submitted in advance that are the real killers.

So the question submitted, and rejected, was:

Will the Mayor include in the agenda of the first available meeting of full council, a vote for council members with the following motion?:

“We the members of Hartlepool Borough Council vote to have option four removed from the possible options available for consideration from the Hartlepool Coastal Defences, Hartlepool Headlands Structures study.”

Well that was never going to fly for several reasons as were explained in the response in the Hartlepool Mail. However, if the question had been something like;

"Will the mayor confirm the timetable for the consultation on the future of the sea defences of the headland and identify who will be responsible for making the final decision"

Then this question could NOT have been refused. The supplementaries could then have brought in option 4 and the request for a debate. It would still have been refused but at least the matter would have reached the agenda and be minuted. Also councillors would have had the opportunity to comment and these remarks would have been on the record.

No matter what the rights and wrongs of your case you have to play by the rules of the arena in which you are fighting. The councillors and officers will use the rules to block you if you give them the opportunity to do so. Sorry to say it but the Save our Prom group once again showed their political naivety in their approach to this.

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