I am going to talk about Democracy and good governance. Another way of phrasing that would be “broken promises” and what to do about them. We have governance arrangements in place for agreeing and implementing financial decisions. I want to argue we need governance arrangements in place for implementing democratic decisions once they have been made.
Let me explain. The Conservatives were elected on their manifesto. Two years in, much of it has not been delivered. I will give you some examples-
Open the One Stop shop on Saturdays
Introduce a star system for Landlords
Set up a social enterprise for local retailers to sell online for delivery in Northampton.
Dare I say it- The Social Lettings Agency.
There are many more.
There should be mechanisms in place to update us on-
i. what has been
2. what will be and
3. what now won’t be delivered.
The administration needs to be more accountable.
It seems to me that the portfolios and the senior officers have been too distracted by the issues surrounding Sixfields to give their full attention to delivering on these promises.
But there are other issues. The Council has passed several motions that should have a positive impact on people’s lives. We passed a motion on Female Genital Mutilation for example. The motion called for all officers and members to receive training on this particular form of child abuse that affects our communities. It hasn’t happened.
We passed a motion agreeing that we would become a Living Wage (Foundation) Authority and seek accreditation. Accreditation rests on us not only implementing the Living Wage as a minimum wage, as recommended by the Living Wage Foundation, it requires us to put that into all our contracts as they are issued. We can then seek certification. This has not happened.
More recently we passed the Dying to Work motion. This requires us to recognise terminal illness as a protected characteristic and for sufferers who work for us to have the rights to work protected. We agreed to seek certification as a Dying to Work employer. This has not been done.
We do not want to be, or seen to be, a council that thinks fine words is a substitute for action.
There are lots more examples. I want to make a plea that with our last motion to be passed with support from all parties we are given a time frame for implementation? This motion was the one agreeing we should webcast all our meetings held in public. Perhaps after each motion is passed we need a response from the portfolio and from the responsible officers giving us information on implementation.
I want to know for example if we are going to carry out the agreed consultation on Victoria Street coach stop. That was a Lib Dem motion passed in March. Also in March was a motion about having youth representation in the Youth Parliament.
Why does it matter? Councillors are local representatives and are out and about in our communities listening and talking with our residents. It is their concerns we champion in this chamber. If we manage to get cross party agreement and carry a motion then we owe it to our constituents to ensure that the motion is implemented. Not to do that breeds mistrust and alienation from the political process.
Most of the motions presented in this Chamber are about improving the lives of our citizens.
Carry a motion is only step one isn’t it?
Step 2 is the important phase. This is when we can tell if words are being used as a substitute for action or whether there is integrity and commitment to our common purpose- to make life better for Northampton and its people.