WAKE UP TO THE TANGLED WEB THAT IS ‘YOUR WAVERLEY’ EVERYONE OR OUR BOROUGH IS LOST!
This is the response WW received to our recent blog on “Your Waverley”s decision to stop informal questions at its meetings.
“I’m afraid this may be partly my fault.” Says Jerry Hyman (Farnham Residents Candidate, Farnham By-Elections – SCC South Farnham Division and WBC Castle Ward)
“But please also note that the changes to the WBC Constitution didn’t just remove the Informal Questions sessions, they also gave Officers greater powers to refuse Formal (written) Public Questions.
Oh – so it is even worse that we thought? WW
“As you rightly point out, ‘Our Waverley’ could not control Informal Questions, and it proved quite embarrassing when they wouldn’t answer even the simplest of questions, so the webcast recordings of Exec & Council meetings weren’t commenced until after the Informal Session had ended.
Hence from early last year, Farnham stalwart David Wylde and I have been recording our Informal Questions using my old camcorder, by asking questions in pairs and videoing each other & the Leader’s evasive responses.
We’ve a bagful of footage to upload to YouTube ‘one day’, and some is quite funny. It seems the Leadership are somewhat averse to us zooming in on them when at their most vulnerable. Such intrusion simply can’t be allowed.
It should be borne in mind that most of the Public Questions we ask are the ones they can’t answer, because to do so (truthfully) would incite calls for resignations and P45s. So the real purpose of the ‘new improved system’ is to give the Council total control over what the public can ask.
Many of our Informal Questions were ones that Officers had refused to allow me to ask as Formal Questions. (NB- Formal Public Questions are printed in the Agenda papers, and the responses are Minuted in Full Council papers).
A few years ago they had reduced the time allowed for Questions from 4 minutes to 2 minutes, and also added a requirement that they be ‘substantially in the form of a question’.
That wasn’t just because I was using Questions to inform backbenchers of what was really going on. I rarely used the 4 minutes, it’s too tedious – apparently it was really done to spare them from Betty Ames’ lengthy statements !
Given Waverley’s penchant for evading and/or ‘accidentally misinterpreting’ questions, it’s rarely possible to compose one that makes sense and seeks a definite answer unless you start with a paragraph or two of background. Two minutes equates to roughly half a side of paper, and is usually enough for the background plus a relevant quotation and the ensuing question.
However, that still allows us to tell backbenchers ‘too much’, so we’ve had numerous questions arbitrarily refused due the pre-amble, even when they’re well within the 2 minutes allowed.
We learned to get past such censorship by occasionally composing them as one long sentence, using lots of punctuation and conjunctions (which got a bit silly, but made the point). Or if we didn’t need the answer in writing, we’d ask it Informally.
But no more.
The changes made to the Constitution give Officers even greater power to refuse questions. They now have total control over what questions can and cannot be asked by the public they supposedly serve.
(Silly me – we all know that ultimately they serve the Party Line).
Of course a good Council with honest Leadership (i.e with policies and projects which withstand scrutiny) would allow the public to ask whatever question we want – and moreover, they’d answer the question !
The “good news” is that Waverley say they will now give proper answers. Great ! They can start by answering the vital questions about Crest’s falsification of the East Street Transport Assessment and EIA, and about the legal and practical constraints which protect our borough – including the recently unveiled joke which they call the ‘Infrastructure Delivery Plan’ .
The ‘Third Local Plan’ now being consulted upon depends entirely upon those issues, and merely repeats the mistakes of the 2006 and 2013 failures.
If we wait until the EiP Hearings for answers, it would almost certainly delay the implementation of a proper Local Plan (and the much-needed protection that would afford to the whole of the borough).
The Leadership’s pretence that there are no constraints to development is not just disgraceful, it’s treachery.We need answers now?
Thank you for your comments Mr Hyman and you have confirmed everything we have been saying since the Waverley Web was launched. Oh! what a tangled web they continue to weave, but the actions of this disgraceful, disreputable bunch are now out in the open – let the people of Waverley be the judge, speak now or democracy in this borough of Waverley is lost. WW