There is something very worrying happening at Medway Council that is having a very bad effect on democracy in Medway and is turning voters against the elected council, especially the ruling Conservative party.
At every full Council there is an allotted time for Public questions to Portfolio holders. It is true that this is often used by Politicos and Party members to make a point as well as one or two people with burning issues but used to fit neatly into the time frame.
Recently though there have been more and more questions are being brought to the Full Council meetings especially about tetchy subjects like Rochester Airport and Strood Library's relocation. The peasants are restless and the council are apparently not doing anything about it.
We've had Councillor Chitty say that Consultations are merely and FYI for the Public of the Council's intent and then last night Cllr Doe said a decision had been made and there was no point in consultation.
This coupled with the very dismissive and often condescending manner with which the Conservative Councillors have dealt with questions is causing more and more discontent. Questions have been answered with diatribes that don't answer the question, dismissed or in a few cases refused as in the case I saw, Cllr Jarrett said I am not in the habit of repeating myself.
At the last meeting there was a full blown revolt with hand clapping and meeting disruption where the Mayor (who wasted public money on the creation of her Christmas cards - including the rental for a fake Snow machine!!!!) ordered the public gallery emptied before leading the Council out. Last night Police officers were on hand when the same thing happened. One member of the public [
stormed through the cordon to tell the Conservative cabinet what he thought and accused them of not listening to the people who voted them in.
This Conservative Cabinet have such a large majority that they don't need to listen to the opposition parties (even if we combined with Labour to do so) but they aren't listening to the voters either. It is seriously becoming a problem. What was a small campaign of people who genuinely care about Strood Library and becoming a Medway wide issue and a symbol of an elected body that is mishandling of their dealings with the public and the protesters.
They have thrown out the slight bone of "Civilian Journalists" for those hardcore politicos and generally don't have public questions as we're too busy writing or tweeting but they are still not addressing the Public or their issues. Thirty minutes isn't long enough, everyone should get the opportunity to ask one question (maybe not the supplementary if there are too many questions) and they should be handled with respect and clarity not dismissed or treated with contempt.
In one attempt to save time they have cut the verbal asking of questions and displayed them on a screen at the front of the Hall - which sadly cannot be read by anyone in the Public area. Or if you're visually impaired you will not know what the answer was in relation too.
Something has to be done and before the local elections next year... the locals are getting restless and arrogantly treating them is not the way.