Woking residents deserve better

January 8, 2019 12:26 PM

Deborah Hughes headshot (Woking Liberal Democrats)It may be that the recent 'block' voting by the Tory members in Woking Borough Council is a way in which to keep the length of the Council sessions to a reasonable time? However this means that we have many important decisions being compressed into one meeting, some of them involving millions of pounds of investment, possibly without balanced debate and consideration.

The last full Council meeting on the 6th of December was a good example of this.

There were 790 pages of papers (Executive papers plus Council papers) involving 17 key decisions.

Some of the items the opposition tried valiantly to debate, in some cases speaking to make amendments to a decision being sought. However, there was little discussion from the majority Tory members in the Council. A colleague commented that this was 'embarrassing' as we watched some members in the chamber checking to see which way their party was voting before voting themselves.

It was more than that. It was an affront on democracy. We are elected to represent our residents, yes, but also to represent The Borough of Woking as a whole. To vote so clearly on party lines seems to negate this. Whilst other parties voted individually and participated in the debates, listened and made judgements based on the points raised, this was not true of all.

We have in the past been proud of the standard and quality of debate, and subsequent voting, where party politics was left more for the election period and not in day to day business of the Council. Members across all parties were prepared to modify their views post-debate following presentation of other aspects for consideration.

What a shame then that over the past few months some in the Council have reverted to such predictable voting patterns.

The Conservatives have 16 seats in the Council to the combined opposition of 14, and as one of these is also the Mayor who is unable to participate in the votes this gives the Conservative group a majority of 3 in any vote.

I would hope that independent consideration of the facts, the value of participating and listening in a debate returns soon to the Council, with more time to discuss the important items of the day. In 2019 let's see an end to Tory block voting and a return of democratic debate!

Cllr Deborah Hughes

Deputy Leader of the LD group, WBC

Ward Councillor for Hoe Valley