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Lib Dems call for council to be ‘more open’

Posted on - 19th January, 2011 - 11:44am | Author - | Posted in - Campaigns, News, People, Photos, Politics

John Bruton, left, and John Potter at Mill Lane Park, Cadley

Two councillors will go before the entire council to urge it to become ‘open and accountable’.

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John Potter and John Bruton, both Liberal Democrat councillors in Fulwood, have put forward a motion to be debated on Thursday 3 February.

At present, residents are not able to air their views at planning meetings, except in written form.

“It’s ridiculous, it’s hampering the people of Preston,” Cllr Potter told Blog Preston.

“Ribble Valley did this 15 years ago. Preston is 15 years behind.”

As part of the motion, the pair argue local residents should be allowed to put forward their opinions at planning committee, citing the recent application for a Mosque in Fulwood as an example where there were strong cases, for and against, from the public.

“It’s just an excuse not to let the public have their say, it’s their city, they should have their say.”

Cllr Potter says he expects some resistance from councillors who tend not to vote unless it’s their party making the proposal: “Those people are shocking councillors and should be beaten in elections as soon as possible. This will allow people to have their voices heard.

“The greatest weapon of democracy, is the weapon of openness. In this day and age, for Preston not to be doing that is just shameful.”

The councillors also claim certain council meetings should be filmed, so those who are not able to be present can still watch what happens behind closed doors.

“No-one wants to sit in a meeting for five hours just for one point on the agenda. This can be done so cheaply now, there’s no reason not to be doing it. Its viewing figures wont rival Saturday night TV, but that’s not the point.

“Since I’ve been a councillor, there’s not been a single question from the public gallery at full council, any improvement on this has to be a positive thing.”

In line with the Open Government Licence, they also argue that photographs that are paid for by the public, should be freely available for public use too; they say this will allow individuals to promote their own interests, while at the same time publicising Preston.

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