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Upcoming Council Vote Leaves Members ‘Concerned’ for Democracy

Photo Creidt: Lis Burke

The council are meeting today to vote on a proposal which is aiming to ‘free up officer capacity in order to focus on the COVID-19 response’

However, opposition councillors are expressing their ‘deep concern’ for the move which they say will ‘be a diminution of the role of elected members’.

Now members are being given two options to vote between with the ambition of giving officers the opportunity to focus on the pandemic by either limiting ‘committee business and executive sub-committee with additional delegated dowers.’

Alternatively, the second option presented would, ‘suspend committees (except quasi-judicial) and use scheduled council meetings and a newly constituted urgent business committee.’

Both the SNP and independent & Labour group announced that they will not be voting in favour of either option saying the proposal is ‘designed to stifle scrutiny and differing views.’

Grant Laing

Grant Laing, leader of the SNP group, said: “Any move to reduce the Committee Structure and move towards a Cabinet structure where power rests with just a few well-informed Councillors will see a diminution of the role of hard-working ward Councillors.

This move by Cllr Lyle shows just how out of step the Perthshire Tories are with the rest of the country. We haven’t found any other Council taking these steps in order to deal with the pandemic.

“This must be about a lack of political leadership to drive forward the business of the Council.”

Instead, the opposition will be forwarding an amendment in the meeting which reads as follows: Amendment: “We propose that no change be made to the current agreed Committee and sub-committee structure, or present six months’ timetable but that allowance is made for a reduction of business in line with the constraints and pressures of responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Xander McDade

Cllr Xander McDade commented: “We are deeply concerned about the Administration’s proposals

to remove the mass participation of elected members in democratic decision-making. Our constituents rightly expect their elected councillors to be able to scrutinise decisions and agree a budget and policies that reflect their interests.

These proposals would considerably alter that situation and, despite our efforts to engage productively with the Leader of the Council on the matter, we have so far been met with a wall of silence which doesn’t bode well for the coming months in our view.

“The Prime Minister has said ‘we are in this together’ but his own councillors are due to get their full senior councillor allowance despite not having committees to Chair for the next five months.

“The taxpayers of Perth & Kinross, many of whom are furloughed or unemployed, are likely to be outraged about these proposals and rightly so. They create a two-tier system of councillors and a set of double standards.”

Both Councillor McDade and Laing said, ‘councillors Laing and McDade wish to be clear that officers coping with additional pressures from the pandemic have the full support of their groups.’

Heartland Multimedia was unable to secure a comment from the Conservative’s proposing the restructuring which is being proposed to ‘in order to release officer capacity to focus on the COVID response and maintain elected member decision-making and oversight’.

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