Taking the time to research and formulate a question for the town council is not an off the cuff, spur of the moment, bang it on an email and see what happens process. Many hours of looking through documents, discussions with existing councillors and careful preparation goes on beforehand. Rightfully, it is not too much to expect that the institution and the people in it, give you the democratic right to consideration in full of the question and that all elected members get the same informed opportunity to make the decision that they feel is right.
Not at Spennymoor Town Council – This is where your question goes into the institution and it is as standing orders state – a collaboration of the Town Clerk and Cllr Ian Geldard as to what is added to an agenda, which committee it goes to and if a question it is put at all. These two people are the sole responsible persons for the democratic process to start. They have been given the power by a vote majority from Spennymoor Labour Councillors to make that decision. People with this level of power must carry the trust of the whole council and not just a simple majority. Editing of questions is a major democratic issue. Councillors can never make a response to any question if they have no idea what the question is. Nobody should be allowed to make any changes to a question put forward by a member of the public and in my opinion, it is the duty of the council to make available to elected members the whole contents of any public communication and the responsibility to make sure that the democratic process is upheld.
Once a question reaches a committee to be discussed, you would expect the chair of that committee to act in a way that allows members of the public to speak and say exactly what they want to say without interruption unless they are disorderly. It cannot under any circumstances be acceptable for members of the public to be told what they can or cannot say. The interruption of a person speaking for no other reason than to force the personal will of the chairman on a member of the public is just wrong.
Spennymoor Town Council is not a democratic institution. The Labour Group make their decisions behind closed doors in back room meetings and then force their will on the town council by sheer numbers. Questions are edited to suit them. Standing orders are written to stop any form of discussion on public questions.
Labour in Spennymoor is just a name for a satellite office of Durham Labour Group. This power as Group Leader puts Cllr Geldard in the position, with the backing of cronies to do as they want. Spennymoor Labour Cronies are even withholding from publication the report of an Independent Investigator into allegations against council employees and elected members. No one councillor or group of councillors should be allowed to exert total ‘power over’ any other person or persons, be them councillors or members of the public.
We need democracy to return and for that to happen we need to remove the Labour Party Elite, who are there for a job and the power it gives them. We need to restore trust in council officers that they will not hide the facts, will not edit communications and will involve the community that pays their salaries. We need to stand up and vote to send a clear message that we want to make Spennymoor better.