This week we got this anonymous email from "Angry" and we couldn't understand why: "Re Site Visit. If you check the above (the Council's list of councillors' pay and expenses) you will note that 5 of the 11 board members, who were Councillors in 2007/08, claimed zero travelling expenses last year !" It was obviously from someone who knew about the way the Council works - maybe a councillor or employee we thought. Later in the week Head of Planning wrote to a member about the site visit. The terms of his letter were an admission that the Council has a "protocol" under which site visits should be conducted in secret because the public may seek to exercise their legitimate right to "lobby" in a public place. He seemed to think this was OK because the Council had given objectors an opportunity to voice their concerns at a "public hearing". You may remember that meeting : it was arranged at short notice for 4 pm on a Tuesday afternoon. And, the Council made a mess of sending out the invitations. Councillor Nicolson impressed local people by implying that there would be a meeting on site and that councillors would visit the neighbours in Manse Crescent. You may remember that site visit: which local people went out of their way to make the board welcome and set out the key physical features. only the convenor and two board members showed up when local people were treated "brusquely" by officials and a councilor who isn't on the planning board, he's on the finance board the "visiting party" refused to visit neighbouring property and hospitality. The Council is supposed to "encourage" community participation, not "control" it. "Angry" maybe pointing out that some councillors don't go on site visits because they think them a waste of time and undemocratic. We think that it shows that the Council isn't confident in what it does and is in fear of its electorate having any say. Our leaders really have to start thinking about the example they are setting officers in the way they deal with the public.
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