Friday, 11 June 2010

Hooray for common sense - UPDATED

My colleague Mario Fonk has proposed a motion for Full Council on Tuesday about the new Homechoice system. The issue is that the current rules mean that local applicants have no precedence in the allocation of council housing and sometimes people are forced to move to the other end of Cornwall to get a home, even if they want to stay where they were born and grew up.

But the controversy over this motion is that the rules state that such proposals are not debated and voted on by all councillors at the council meeting. Motions are referred automatically by the Chairman to a committee or to the Cabinet. This adds delay and means that many councillors are not able to speak on the issue. Only the proposer and seconder have a formal right to speak at these committees.

Such was the ruling on Mario's motion. I, and many other councillors, have expressed dismay at the emasculation of the full council. We have the so-called 'strong leader' model where the Cabinet has the real power. But it seems wrong that full council is not even allowed to express a view. Since the Council started last year, only one members motion has been debated.

A number of us wrote to the Chairman asking her to reconsider in this case. I believe that full council should be a forum for debate. We might not be able to do anything about the ultimate decision making power, but we should be able to have our say and make a recommendation to the Cabinet.

Thankfully, and to her credit, the Chairman has seen fit to reconsider and the motion will now be debated at Full Council.

UPDATE - The motion was passed by Full Council earlier this afternoon by 50 votes to 32 with 19 abstentions (which includes the entire cabinet as they will have to vote on the issue in the future). It will now inform the new Homechoice policy. Congratulations to Mario for getting this through.

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