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Criticism of WC cabinet to be banned

January 5, 2021 9:38 PM
By SW Wilts Lib Dems
Originally published by Trevor Carbin Liberal Democrat

Wiltshire Council

Wiltshire Council leader Philip Whitehead has announced that questions or statements from members of the public which are critical of his cabinet and its members won't be accepted in future.
The decision at the January 5th cabinet meeting was in response to a submission from Adrian Temple-Brown on the Stonehenge road scheme. It questioned in forthright terms the cabinet's commitment to the council's environmental goals, comparing the Stonehenge plans to those for Chippenham via the Housing Infrastructure Fund.
Mr Temple-Brown says, "The public could reasonably conclude that Cabinet doesn't answer climate questions because the Cabinet doesn't care about carbon emissions." And, "As a group, you've politely listened and gently used process and procedure to ignore your declaration, in order to carry on Business As Usual."
No response to the submission was given at the cabinet meeting.
The agenda for the meeting (see supplement) is available here, as is a recording of the cabinet meeting. Item at 2hrs 38mins.
There is a large question here for the democratic process, if is Mr Whitehead infered, no questions or statements from members of the public which are critical of his cabinet and its members are accepted in future, where does this leave the public scrutiny and oversight of Wiltshire Council.
To pursue such a course of action, whilst in the short term may seem peaceful to Cllr Whitehead, in reality he is treading a dangerous line, who decides what is critical and what isn't as it's a subjective process, what guidelines and governance will be put in place to help decide?
Imagine if an expert resident had constructive but critical criticism on a project and it was ignored as to critical, but those criticisms became accurate and valid - where would that leave the council they'd be seen as out of touch, and how could they demonstrate the openness of the council processes?
No one likes criticism, but there is a place for it in being held to account on difficult decisions, A dangerous stance indeed.