Friday, 27 April 2012

Moyle District Council - A Bit Behind The Times


[the power of NALIL blog :)]

From time to time I've referred to the Council's failure to post its agenda online prior to a meeting and to keep its online minutes up-todate. This latest item courtesy of Google news takes the dog-biscuit:

The councillors were elected to the various committees on 16 May 2011; the list is published on 19 April 2012.

The absence of Standing Orders was reported here on 7 May 2010; the introduction of Standing Orders was officially proposed again on 23 April 2012. The Council back on 27 June 2005 turned down a proposal to introduce these orders:

"Council to consider setting up standing orders (Requested by Councillor McMullan)

Councillor McMullan asked Councillors to look at documentation produced on this topic and informed them that this item would be put on the agenda for the next meeting.

Councillor Blaney asked why this was being brought up now, as Council may no longer exist in 3-4 years.

Councillor McCambridge enquired if the adoption of this policy would lead to the meetings being any more efficient.

The Clerk stated that Standing Orders would have the advantage of conducting meetings in a certain manner but that the disadvantage would be that it would be possible to suspend these at any time.

Councillor McAllister proposed that the Council do not adopt Standing Orders.

Councillor McShane asked that the new Councillors be given a chance to look over the documentation provided.

After further discussion, a recorded vote was taken on the introduction of Standing Orders.

On a recorded vote being taken, Councillors Newcombe, McShane, Blaney, O Black, McMullan and McCambridge voted in favour of and Councillors McConaghy, McIlroy, McAllister, Graham, Hartin, Harding and McDonnell voted against the adoption of standing orders. [Apologies were received on behalf of Councillors M Black and M McKeegan.]

It was therefore agreed that Standing Orders would not be adopted by Council."

Perhaps they would have been adopted if all councillors had been present.

One other point perhaps worth making is that the minutes of 12 March 2005 contain about 7000 words whereas those of 14 March 2012 contain about 2600; those for the first meeting in February show a similar large difference. It's most unlikely that councillors are less articulate or less wordy in 2012 than they were back in 2005 so the information content has been dramatically curtailed. The minutes of, say, Government Departmental Boards show a similar contraction almost to the point where they become information free. Is such a restriction on the availability of details about public decision making in the best interests of democracy?