1:42pm Thursday 10th February 2011
By David Hardiman
TORY councillors voted against involving the public in shaping the future of council scrutiny at a meeting last night.
At the Constitution Review committee, Labour councillor Alan Schneiderman put forward a motion to allow the public to attend one focus group on how the council's scrutiny process could improve.
But the proposal was rejected by Conservative councillors who argued that the focus groups should be for council members only.
Cabinet member Richard Cornelius said: “It would devalue the position of an elected member to allow the public into this process – we are elected officials after all.”
Liberal Democrat leader Jack Cohen said that the outbursts by angry drivers in last month's full council meeting showed that more public involvement was needed.
He added: “If you leave it to members to seek public involvement, they may cherry pick members of the public that agree with their views.”
The move came after New Barnet resident John Dix told the committee that the public “were chomping at the bit to get involved” in council work.
He said: “I am anxious at the level of public involvement in the council. Overview and scrutiny is where the executive can be held to account.
“If you want the public to participate more you should stop making it so difficult for them.”
The Constitution Review committee will consider proposed changes to the way the council does business and make recommendations to the full council meeting in April.
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