• Is asking a written question at a council meeting “grandstanding?”

    27th February 2014 | News | Claire
  • The question was:

    “The Pulman’s View From newspaper of 11 February reports the corporate business portfolio holder as saying that “a bus service currently passing Skypark will be diverted to serve stops within Skypark when it is completed.”

    Devon County Council is responsible for the bus service. Would the portfolio holder indicate when Devon County Council made this commitment?

    This commitment is contained in the section 106 agreement accompanying the outline planning for Skypark. Paragraph 3.13 of schedule 3 of this document states that:

    “The owner shall maintain an access for bus services to enter and exit the development during all stages of development.”

    The outline planning permission was issued in June 2010.

    Cllr Giles supplementary question involved pushing for an answer to his question because providing an access for a bus stop is not the same as getting a commitment from Devon County Council or a bus company to run a service to and from Skypark.

    Cllr Giles (who was a Devon County Councillor for some 20 years so speaks with some authority about these matters) added that he didn’t think that there was time within the timetable to allow a stop.

    Cllr Bloxham seemed to get angry at this and demanded to know why Cllr Giles didn’t simply ring him up about the issue and asked why it was necessary to “grandstand.”

    Having attended quite a few (much more civilised) Devon County Council meetings, I have observed that sometimes there are THIRTY written questions submitted, yet I have never heard Cllr John Hart and his cabinet accuse anyone of “grandstanding.”  It is simply an accepted part of council meetings.

    The written question function is an important instrument in the councillor’s toolkit for asking about issues that are in the public interest and receiving answers, in the public domain.

    It seems indicative of the ongoing malaise at East Devon District Council that this facility is not seen as part of the democratic process and councillors are instead criticised for using it.