• Public speaking rights on agenda at EDDC standards committee

    12th June 2013 | News | Claire
  • There was a furore in February when a controversial paper about the five year land supply, proposing to approve most large applications in the future, was debated by the development management committee.

    No non committee EDDC councillor or member of the public was permitted to speak on this agenda item, which caused a lot of anger and frustration.  Myself and Cllr Roger Giles had put together a paper with proposals, but were not allowed to speak on the paper.

    Later, Cllr Roger Giles, asked that the public speaking rules be looked at again. 

    The issue is now going to be debated by the EDDC standards committee, which will consider the points below, which are listed on the agenda:

    ? shortening the period during which a question may be asked to give more people the chance to speak;

    ? addressing the problem of statements being made during Public Question Time instead of questions asked;

    ? allowing members (not on Development Management Committee) and the public to speak on matters other than planning applications at Development Management Committee;

    ? asking members of the public to put their question at the start before explanatory detail and background context. It has been suggested that the question could be projected onto a screen (although this would require the member of the public to submit their question before the meeting);

    ? ability to reject a question if it has been put at meeting of the Council in the past six months. Responses to past questions can be found in the minutes of that committee;

    ? Only allowing questions that are either within the remit of the council or relate to matters that the council could influence.The publication of the standards committee agenda, follows an article in this week’s Sidmouth Herald, with accusations of “scaremongering” directed at EDDC independent councillors, by conservative, Ray Bloxham.

    Independent councillors, including Trevor Cope and Roger Giles had expressed concern (as I had on this blog) of a potential dimunition of public speaking rights, following the agenda for annual council on 22 May, which had suggested that public speaking times might be shortened.

    Cllr Bloxham told the Herald:  ““This issue is yet another example of blatant scaremongering for political gain by a small number of independent opposition members and it should form no part of local politics.”

    The article is here – http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/news/councillor_defends_eddc_public_speaking_1_2227606 

    EDDC standards committee will also consider new guidance from the local government association and planning advisory service on councillor probity in the planning process.

    The council’s draft social media policy is also on the agenda.

    The standards committee meeting is on Tuesday (18 June), starting at 10am, in the committee room at the Knowle, Sidmouth.  Here’s the agenda – http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/combined_standards_agenda_180613.pdf