• But what IS lobbying? Confusion breaks out over motion to encourage greater openness

    27th February 2014 | News | Claire
  • My (apparently very confusing) motion was this:

    “Openness and transparency in the planning process is vital. This council therefore agrees to include an item on the agenda of all development management committee and planning inspections committee meetings, requiring members of those committees to declare if and who they have been lobbied by, about items on the agenda.”

    In my speech I explained that I had been asking for this issue to come before overview and scrutiny committee, which had eventually referred it to the standards committee. but despite several requests, the standards committee had not put it on their agenda.  I had given up asking I said, and lodged a motion instead.

    Cllr Bloxham didn’t like it because he said the motion, along with others I had lodged previously “impugned councillors integrity,” which he said was the “worst thing.”  He went on to say it was “unclear” and asked what was meant by the term lobbying.

    Cllr Moulding said he was lobbied all the time about issues and suggested this would cause him problems in the council chamber. He also said the motion was unclear.

    Luckily, Cllr Trevor Cope (ind) knew what lobbying meant and who it applied to. He spelt it out to the conservative group in loud slow tones, as though talking to a child. 

    It didn’t work. Cllr Philip Skinner still didn’t understand.

    Nor did development management committee chair, Cllr Helen Parr. She said that her committee went through training when they took up their position. She also asked what was meant by lobbying.

    Cllr Ben Ingham joined Cllr Cope in attempting to explain what was meant by the word “lobbying.”  He suggested it meant an approach from either the applicant or agent.

    But Cllr Tom Wright was still confused, as was Cllr Mike Allen.

    With such a lot of confusion about the place, it was proposed, by Cllr Helen Parr I believe, to refer the issue of lobbying to the standards committee.

    This was supported by most councillors, including me.  Let’s hope that this time it actually makes it onto the agenda.