Oxfordshire Green Party

Consultation on City Council decision-making 'a sham' say Greens

4 March 2011

The Greens have hit out at the so-called consultation [1] currently being carried out by Oxford City Council which they have described as 'a sham'.

The consultation, which runs until 25th March, concerns changes to the council's decision-making processes which the Labour controlled City Council have already pre-determined in their annual budget, passed in February. The budget abolished Area Committees, centralised planning and confirmed the new 'super leader' model whereby there are fewer Council meetings and where decisions are placed in the hands of individual Labour members.

The questionnaire purports to give resident a choice on these matters - yet the questions are biased and designed to provoke a favourable response.

As an example, one key question-

‘Do you think area forums and other neighbourhood meetings offer the potential to involve local people in reaching decisions about their local areas?'

which purports to determine whether the current Area Committee system should be retained, confusingly makes a reference to 'Area Forums' only. These will have NO decision making powers and NO budget to deliver local projects (which the current Area Committees do) and will not meet as frequently (quarterly rather than monthly).

There is no question which presents residents with a simple choice, to determine whether or not they wish to see Area Committees retained in their current form.

Says Oxfordshire Green Party Deputy Chair and former City Councillor Craig Simmons, ‘This poorly advertised consultation is clearly a sham. These undemocratic changes to the Council's decision-making processes are politically driven and will reduce opportunities for residents and opposition councillors to make their views known. Labour are clearly hoping that this biased set of questions will deliver the results they want.'

[1] Oxford City Council consultation web page.

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