Friday, 7 October 2011

Democracy in Action

Last month Tenbury Town Council voted 5 to 4 against supporting the Tesco planning application.

This was, as one commentator put it "as close as you could get to 50/50 without a chain saw"

What was slightly unexpected was that between this meeting and the meeting of the full Town Council, many ordinary (and I don't mean that in a derogatory way but people who don't usually become involved in the ways of the Council or write to the press or join action groups)  towns folk and traders sought out and spoke to various Councillors and made their feelings known.

When the original vote was cast 9 Councillors were able to vote, 2 were not permitted as they had personal  and prejudicial interests and 2 Councillors were away.

At the next full meeting of the Town Council, Cllrs were asked to (in effect) ratify this motion, but this time the numbers were different.
10 Councillors were able to vote,  2 were not permitted as they had personal  and prejudicial interests and 1 Councillor was away.  The motion (to ratify) was defeated 6 votes to 4.

This doesn't mean that the Town Council "have done a U turn" and now support the planning proposal, or that they no longer oppose it, but means that pending further discussion they have no official view.

Under "standing order" the rules that govern the Town Council, they are unable to discuss and vote on the same subject more than once in six months, but there is a "get out" which means provided four Councillors submit a written motion, then the subject can be brought back, provided that the written motion is posted for a duration and then voted upon and accepted by a majority.

So next Monday the Council will be able to vote on whether they agree to the motion brought by the four Councillors.

What happens next really depends on who is at the meeting on Monday.

A maximum of 10 Councillors will have a vote. 3 will not be permitted as they had personal and prejudicial interests.

If the written motion succeeds in attracting 6 votes, then the original motion will be brought back for another vote.  In theory if the written motion succeeds then the Council will then vote to support the Tesco application.  This can not then be overturned.  If the written motion fails, then the original motion stands.

I think what we can safely say is that the Town Council are as divided as the Town, and that whilst there is a strong and vocal opposition to the development, there is an equally strong, but much less vocal group in favour.

As I wrote to one of  the founders of what became Tenbury Futures nearly a year ago "I'm sure we will get the right result in the end (whatever that may be)"

(PS: This is my understanding of what happened/is happening, but can't guarantee I'm 100% constitutionally correct or have used all the correct terminology)


Anonymous said...

Another Tenbury farce in the making.

@WR15 said...

Not a farce - democracy.

Anonymous said...

WR15 commented: This doesn't mean that the Town Council "have done a U turn" and now support the planning proposal, or that they no longer oppose it, but means that pending further discussion they have no official view.

TTC Agenda for Monday states:-
To re-consider the proposal that Tenbury Town Council wishes to recommend approval of Planning
Application Ref.11/00887/FUL - Erection of Class A1 food store, associated car parking, public open
space and access improvement works. Cattle Market Site, Teme Street, Tenbury Wells.
"To agree the reasons for approval and comments to be attached to the Town Council response to
Planning Application 11/00887/FUL."

Does this mean the decision is
pre-empted and a U-turn but obviously something that can be done (democracy) or they wouldn't be doing it. A U-turn (change of mind/re-consider/change decision)

Anonymous said...

Is it 2 or 3 councillors not permitted as they had personal and prejudicial interests ?

@WR15 said...

It has to be on the agenda otherwise it cannot be discussed, but if the first vote (8.4) "fails" then it can't be re-discussed.

If they waited until the outcome of 8.4 was known, then another week would go past before a further meeting could be held.

Total of 3 Cllrs can't vote (but at previous meetings only two were there and a third was absent)

U-turn democracy said...

The agenda for the extra ordinary meeting on Oct 10 suggests that Town Council has already decided to approve Tesco's planning application.
Agenda point 8.6 states: "To agree the reasons for approval....." - there is no option to agree the reasons for rejection - so the decision about how to vote on point 8.5 "To re-consider the proposal...." has already been made.
This doesn't sound right - the decision about how to vote should be made at the meeting, not agreed before the meeting is held.

@WR15 said...

If 8.5 is passed then by virtue of the numbers so will 8.6 (unless someone is really messing with us)

If 8.5 is not passed, then the meeting ends there and 8.6 isn't discussed.

That is why it's worded that way.
(I think)

@WR15 said...

It seems that Tenbury Futures are perhaps unknowingly propagating falsehoods about planning appeals.

They say....

"It would [seem] they (Tenbury Town Council) do intend to do a u-turn on their decision to reject Tesco's plans. If they are then why? Have they been 'advised' or leant-on in some way maybe [or] possibly even 'reminded' that if MHDC's planner reject Tesco again that Tesco will appeal? Council's all over the UK are now running scared of this scenario as if Tesco win the appeal then the costs etc can be claimed from MHDC who will have to recoup the monies from local tax payers?"

1.) Yes Tenbury Town Council have been leant on, but not by Tesco or MHDC, but by local people who actually live in Tenbury.

2.) If MHDC turn down the application, then it is highly likely that at this stage Tesco will appeal.

3.) MHDC Legal Services will not allow the planners to include anything that is not a valid reason. (For instance if Highways don't object, then MHDC cannot use traffic as a reason for objection)

4.) MHDC will have to pay their own appeal costs, but NOT Tesco's

5.) The S106 agreement (that will be agreed prior to the planning meeting) will not automatically lapse on appeal, but Tesco would have the option to ask the Planning Inspector to delete anything that they are not happy with. Equally the Planning Inspector can decide to make changes to the S106 agreement, which might be to increase or decrease the sums involved.

5.) MHDC will not be able to insist on an site specific planning conditions, but the Planning Inspector has a free reign to apply his/her own conditions.

RichTea said...

The meeting on Sept 26th "RESOLVED that comments to planning should be agreed at Full Council Meeting on 3rd October 2011". Assuming that the 'next meeting' is now the one on Oct 10th then surely if 8.5 is defeated TTC still have to agree the comments to go with the current decision. So the wording of 8.6 appears to be incorrect(unfortunate?).

@WR15 said...

Rich Tea, I take your point and you are correct. I can only guess,(as I'm only an outside observer)it was written given consideration to where they were by the end of the last meeting.

Bumblebee said...

I guess we just wait and see for monday evening's TTC meet.. It all sounds very convoluted. Talk about swings and roundabouts..

Anonymous said...

...Council's all over the UK...

The plural of Council is Councils - not Council's

Ian said...

So Tenbury Town Council has finally made a definitive decision (for the moment, anyway!) - to endorse the Tesco application. I'm pretty confident that this reflects the views of the majority of the people who actually live here. I'm afraid that I can't back-up that claim with any scientific our statistical evidence - just intuition.