PETER Wright, John Grantham and Douglas Beazer (BN Dec 15) all share the concern at the council’s ability to force through unpopular policies against the majority will.
The January 19 environment overview committee, gave me my first taste of this form of false democracy at Dorset County Council (DCC).
The motion before the council was to set up a working party to investigate the level of the concessionary fare scheme that the council provides to bus operators, to inform the larger transport review that the council is currently undertaking.
The council voted this down, using the chairman to swing the vote, even though it was admitted by an officer that the whole formulation of the payment has been outsourced to a contractor as the council does not have the ‘in-house expertise’. No evidence was put forward to counter the assertion that DCC only pays 36 per cent of the concessionary fare while Hampshire pays 45 per cent and Somerset pays 55 per cent.
DCC has so far been unable to state the amount of concessionary fare money provided by the government compared with the amount paid out.
Why do other councils pay more considering that they all use the same central formula and receive the money from central government to cover the cost? All complicated stuff so why does the DCC refuse to investigate it further?
The striking feature of the democratic process is the lack of discussion. The proposer of the motion was allowed 10 minutes, and members of the public were allowed to apply to speak for three minutes but there was no discussion or clarification allowed.
This led to the situation where the councillors and officers could make illogical and unfounded statements and leave the central questions unanswered while the chairman seems to have the ability to form the vote on a whim.