Hi Mark and Paul

When I was reviewing the answers to the written questions at Wednesday’s full council meeting last evening, I realised that the judgement on key reports of the state of the Knowle that the Information Commissioner has ruled must be public, will be made two days after the decision on the office relocation.

The move to schedule an extraordinary meeting to make a final decision on an unpopular office relocation, just a few days before purdah and the council elections – seems to me and many people to be profoundly undemocratic and quite wrong, as I outlined in my speech at full council on Wednesday evening.

But the fact that a decision on publishing key reports on the state of the Knowle buildings won’t be made until two days later, deeply compounds that wrong.

Given that a tribunal hearing took place on this issue last August, we all reasonably expected to receive the judgement long before now and most definitely before any decision on office relocation was made.

Neither were we expecting a decision on the move to be forced through with such alacrity before the elections.

The decision on office relocation being made without the benefit of the outcome of the judgement being known means that councillors cannot refer to those key reports, unless the debate takes place with the public and press excluded. A move that would be quite unacceptable on a decision of such magnitude.

It also means that members of the public would not have any sight of such documents until it was too late for them to consider them and make representations at any such meeting.

There are now surely overwhelming reasons to suspend a decision on the office relocation until AFTER the elections.

I hope that the council will consider its own reputation on this matter, and be fair to its councillors – and its electorate – the people who effectively own the Knowle buildings – and are likely to pay dearly for any relocation – and defer the decision.

I urge the council to suspend this process and review again after 7 May.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Best wishes
Claire