Dear Leeds City Council, quite a few of us couldn’t get in to today’s council meeting …

Dear Leeds City Council,

Quite a few of us local citizens couldn’t get in to the public council meeting held today in the Civic Hall.

We made the effort to come because we care about one or more of the issues the council’s leaders were making decisions about: care homes for our mums and dads, primary schools for our kids, allotment prices, flood defences, and getting late-night bars to help pay for the police.

So it was a bit of a wind-up when we were told on arrival that we weren’t going to get in because the meeting room was full. A handful stayed on, others went home or wandered off alone.

But instead of whingeing on about it, here’s a positive suggestion:

Why not hold all of the meetings that regularly get a good public turn-out – the monthly executive board and the planning panels – in the biggest room you’ve got available, the council chamber?

That way you’ll never have to turn any of us away again. And on the days when not many of us turn up, you won’t be any worse off.

And given that you’ve got the chamber wired up so you can broadcast the monthly meetings of full council over the internet, you could broadcast those two meetings live as well.

What do you reckon?

Yours

Leeds citizens

(please feel free to reply in the comment box below)

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10 Responses to Dear Leeds City Council, quite a few of us couldn’t get in to today’s council meeting …

  1. Simon Cooke says:

    Quite appallingly arrogant behaviour from the Council. When I was an Executive member in a nearby City there were several occasions when we relocated to the Council Chamber to accommodate public interest (such as when we agreed to build six new children’s homes). LCC could have do this – it’s not that they weren’t aware of public interest!

  2. To be fair, they have relocated in the past when a crowd turns up … but not yesterday. There was apparently some hoo-ha before the meeting involving demonstrators campaigning against care homes cuts (but, given that I couldn’t get in, I don’t know what happened). Not an excuse, but it probably clouded their judgement. Whatever, they really need to do something to make sure people aren’t turned away again.

  3. Sarah Covell says:

    Time to bring in video streaming for all council meetings . Its as interesting to see who doesn’t speak at these meetings as well as who doesn’t.

    • It would SO easy to do it. AND the council would get much fuller coverage on mainstream local media too, given that journalists could keep an eye on it in their newsrooms while they’re doing other stuff, rather than spend an unproductive 3 hours sat captive in a meeting.

  4. Megan says:

    This happened to Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market recently too. A whole group of people turned up only to be turned away. I managed to get in and found most of the seats in the limited public area were taken by council officers. I’ve seen meetings relocated in the past but it seems that is now a thing of the past along with even paying lip service to the idea of public accountability, transparency and democratic debate.

    • There was muttering yesterday about the number of seats being taken up by council officers. Couldn’t say because I couldn’t get in. Maybe they had to be there. All the more reason for a bigger venue.

  5. Pingback: Friday afternoon reading: September 6, 2013 | The Democratic Society

  6. Cllr Keith Wakefield says:

    Unfortuantely, the Executive Board members (including myself) were not aware at the time that there were members of the public who could not get into the meeting. This is clearly not a situation we want to see repeated and I can only apologise to those people who were not able to watch the meeting. We are looking at alternatives for future meetings.

  7. tony blackburne says:

    It interesting to note that that councils call these so called officials officers, they do not hold a commission from the Queen like officers in the forces do, they are just people who are invariably people who are snobbish and hold a position in the Townhall . and feel that it is below their dignity to engage the population at large into their inner circle, and make to many decisions without consulting the general public.

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