Consultations and Petitions Opinion Forming or a Political PR stunt?

A note from Cllr Jayne McCoy, one of the Deputy Leaders of the Council about the Government’s Consultation on changes to Planning Law referred glowingly to 4,500 consultation comments on the Sutton Local Plan.

When you look at the London Borough of Sutton website, you will find consultations on anything from the South London Waste Plan to Parking Proposals and of course you have to consider the current TFL Consultation on bus route changes – add Cllr McCoy’s pleas to look at the Government consultation and you begin to see the trend.

The politicians and administrators can claim “consultation” on every issue and use it as a defence against public dissent and this abuse of what appears to be a democratic process goes hand in hand with Petitions.

When Prime Minister David Cameron promised that any petition with over 100,000 signatures would get parliamentary time, the inference inevitably that “something would be done – we’re listening”

Well the reality is rather different – and as for local petitions, the habit of our ruling group to “note” petitions on, for example, school streets is abhorrent and frankly reflective of the reality.

This Council has focussed all communication through the internet and through their website effectively marginalising the poor or the elderly who do not have everyday access. 

At a recent meeting, when the local Age UK representative  questioned the TFL Consultation on that subject, the TFL representative pointed out the prohibitive cost of paper driven consultation.

The perverse reality is that the 54 elected Councillors of the London Borough of Sutton were offered the loan of a Chromebook to assist in this era of remote meetings.  Although every one of them receives an allowance and should be wholly “connected” – 18 of the Councillors took up the offer.  That is one third thought they were inadequately served by their own equipment! 

What chance our residents especially the elderly and underpriveleged?

When Councillors of the ruling group will not listen, do not promote communication and take no notice of local residents, consultation and petitions are revealed for what they are, a political crutch to deflect criticism.

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