Democracy 'dying' in Newport - councillor

South Wales Argus: Cllr David Fouweather Cllr David Fouweather

A MOTION to change the way council meetings are conducted was denied by Newport council, despite opposition councillors claiming democracy was "dying" in the city.

The motion proposed that “questions to the Leader of the Council, cabinet members and chairs should not be restricted to questions written in advance and should return to a process that allows these members to be asked questions without notice.”

Moving the motion on Tuesday, Cllr David Fouweather asked the council to “return to a democratic system that works.”

But Cllr Ray Truman said: “The council is more open now than it’s ever been.”

Leader of the council, Bob Bright also opposed and said: “The Welsh Assembly Government use the same system. It’s nonsense and you know it.”

Cllr Fouweather claimed the assembly are less rigid on the supplementary questions than Newport council.

Cllr Paul Hannon spoke against the motion and said it was “way out of date”. He referred to speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow’s criticisms of Prime Minister’s questions and said: “That is actually what you are proposing we step back to today.”

Cllr Hannon went on to say he would like to see the public given the opportunity to come to council and put questions to the councillors.

“That is how you open the doors to democracy,” he said.

But Cllr David Williams, who seconded the motion, said: “It will improve democracy and certainly improve knowledge and education."

Cllr Matthew Evans agreed and said: “We have less scrutiny. This is an opportunity for back benchers from across parties to see how their members perform in council. This is the opportunity for you to shine, for you to perform.

“The system doesn’t work so why not have the opportunity to ask a proper supplementary question.”

Cllr Debbie Wilcox said under the current system, there was less time wasting. She said: “It’s much more focused and professional.”

But addressing back benchers, Cllr Fouweather said: “You must want an opportunity to test your executives - to ask the questions that matter to get the answers that count to your residents.”

Later in the meeting, Chair of the council Mayor Cliff Suller intervened to stop councillors putting questions to Bob Bright on the proposed Improvement Plan, claiming they were there to debate the matter, saying it was “not a question and answer session.” The plan was subsequently passed with no objections and no debate.

Cllr Fouweather said: “We tried to ask questions on it and the mayor closed us down.

“Democracy in Newport is dying.”

Comments (8)

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7:49am Thu 1 May 14

Woodgnome says...

Another blow to Newport's reputation..........
....and before the pilot fish lefties jump on me, I'm not making a party political point.
Another blow to Newport's reputation.......... ....and before the pilot fish lefties jump on me, I'm not making a party political point. Woodgnome
  • Score: 12

8:20am Thu 1 May 14

Bobevans says...

The same applies across the UK we only really have a pretence of a democracy. Sure you get to vote every 4 or 5 years but they are not accountable at all in between. They can commit crimes. Change parties not bother to attend meetings and nothing can be done

The parties can come up with manifestos that might just as well be a piece of blank paper as once elected they will do as they please and do
The same applies across the UK we only really have a pretence of a democracy. Sure you get to vote every 4 or 5 years but they are not accountable at all in between. They can commit crimes. Change parties not bother to attend meetings and nothing can be done The parties can come up with manifestos that might just as well be a piece of blank paper as once elected they will do as they please and do Bobevans
  • Score: 18

8:29am Thu 1 May 14

theviking666 says...

The motion proposed that “questions to the Leader of the Council, cabinet members and chairs should not be restricted to questions written in advance and should return to a process that allows these members to be asked questions without notice.” How dare you think you can question the council.
The motion proposed that “questions to the Leader of the Council, cabinet members and chairs should not be restricted to questions written in advance and should return to a process that allows these members to be asked questions without notice.” How dare you think you can question the council. theviking666
  • Score: 19

10:39am Thu 1 May 14

paddyparry says...

The council is not there to serve the people of Newport. It is there to provide jobs and benefits to people who would not be trusted to manage a large budget anywhere else. They do not want effective scrutiny and, to be honest, are probably not capable of thinking on their feet when pressed with unexpected questions.
The council is not there to serve the people of Newport. It is there to provide jobs and benefits to people who would not be trusted to manage a large budget anywhere else. They do not want effective scrutiny and, to be honest, are probably not capable of thinking on their feet when pressed with unexpected questions. paddyparry
  • Score: 15

12:22pm Thu 1 May 14

-trigg- says...

Democracy as a system of government is fundamentally flawed, based as it is on the premise that everyone is equal and everyone's opinion carries equal weight (one man, one vote).

In fact we are NOT all equal. Some people will closely study the policies and character of the candidates before deciding where to place their x, whilst others will vote for someone purely because they represent that their family has always voted for.

In practice many of the electorate now feel so disenfranchised and divorced from the system that they simply choose not to vote at all, thereby allowing minority views to be represented disproportionately.
Democracy as a system of government is fundamentally flawed, based as it is on the premise that everyone is equal and everyone's opinion carries equal weight (one man, one vote). In fact we are NOT all equal. Some people will closely study the policies and character of the candidates before deciding where to place their x, whilst others will vote for someone purely because they represent that their family has always voted for. In practice many of the electorate now feel so disenfranchised and divorced from the system that they simply choose not to vote at all, thereby allowing minority views to be represented disproportionately. -trigg-
  • Score: 7

2:31pm Thu 1 May 14

newporteast says...

A badly run labour city council
A badly run labour city council newporteast
  • Score: 8

3:36pm Thu 1 May 14

Severn40 says...

Given that there are now fewer meetings, they are capped in terms of time and questions have to be submitted days in advance, perhaps Newport's esteemed cabinet members should take a lead and take a significant cut in their 'special responsibility' allowances as they are only doing half the job?
Given that there are now fewer meetings, they are capped in terms of time and questions have to be submitted days in advance, perhaps Newport's esteemed cabinet members should take a lead and take a significant cut in their 'special responsibility' allowances as they are only doing half the job? Severn40
  • Score: 7

5:53pm Thu 1 May 14

Magor says...

You only need to look at the state Newport has got into,a good example of a failed Council.
You only need to look at the state Newport has got into,a good example of a failed Council. Magor
  • Score: 1

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