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+1 vote
And if they do, how does a member of the public go about challenging them if they do not think they have abided by the Code?

Our Town Council are planning to borrow a huge amount of money to build a new Town Hall. They have had no consultation, want to sell off an assett the town is particularly keen to keep, they are unable to tell us how much (or even estimate) the project costs, there is a clawback provision on the sale of the site they want that could potentially cost the taxpayer a fortune, they have spent £35k on the current town hall in the last 2 years, I could go on and on... how can we call the council to account?
by (170 points)

1 Answer

+1 vote
We had a very similar experience.  It seems extremely difficult to invoke any kind of oversight that would call in a project.  Provided a town council is acting lawfully - publishing agendas with adequate notice that show what decisions it is thinking of making, holding meetings in public, etc - it can do pretty much whatever it likes.

Democratic action is the only sure fire route to blocking unwelcome actions.  Given the timing, you need to get busy right away!  Town and parish councils are all up for election on 5 May 2011, and candidate nominations have to be submitted by 4 April 2011.  The reliable route to change is to have a big enough bunch of candidates who are willing to stand on a platform of opposing the plans you dislike, and then to get up a campaign for their election.

When problems arise away from election time, ten citizens can force a town meeting.   The town meeting has no power, but a well attended town meeting can make feelings known, and can demand a poll of the town on an issue of concern.  Even the poll is not binding on the council, but concerted action with petitions, meetings and so on may wear down recalcitrant council members resulting in either changes of heart or resignations.  In the event of resignations, ten citizens can demand a by-election rather than allowing existing councillors to co-opt replacements.

It's hard work, but if the public support is there, it can be done.   In our town, people acted to promote a petition, demanded a town meeting that was attended by nearly 10% of the entire population, saw some resignations and had a by-election where candidates opposing the project topped the poll.  With a further resignation, the balance of the council was tipped against the project, which is now stopped.
by (33.5k points)
Thought you might like an update on this ... we took your advice and got busy and recruited 15 candidates to stand as a group, and we won an 11-4 majority on the council!!! The support from the public was incredible! Now we have other problems ... see my latest post.

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