One month behind schedule, but yep – deep breath – it’s only the minutes from the Co-operative Council Citizen’s Commission initial business meeting.
It’s still not entirely sure exactly what the Commission is. Even the @lambeth_council website seems confused, getting somewhat tongue-tied with the rather misleading:
“The co-operative council commission, or citizen commission, has been set up to work with citizens, partners, politicians and other groups who are interested and / or likely to be affected by the council’s proposals.”
A Co-operative Council Commission or a *ahem* Citizen’s Commission?
If you can’t even formally decide upon a working name for the secretive Commission, then I don’t hold much hope for actually being able to formulate any local authority policy.
This is a key point. The former implies no citizen involvement; the latter indicates that citizen’s will sit on the commission. A fudge of the two suggests that the whole exercise is nothing but folly.
And what of the initial ‘business meeting’ by-line? What the chuffers has business got to do with providing front line local authority services? I fear I am posing a rhetorical question here, but any insight from the non-citizens that make up the Citizen’s Commission would be appreciated.
Speaking of which, looking at all those present and correct, and as expected, the first meeting of the
Citizen’s Commission Co-operative Council Commission didn’t contain a single citizen.
But wait – what’s this? As well as the already established three high-ranking members of @LambethLabour that makes up the Citizen’s Commission, over a month after that first May meeting and it has now been revealed that six other attendees were present:
“Derrick Anderson, Chief Executive, Sophia Looney, Divisional Director, Policy, Equality and Performance; Erica Ballmann, Head of Leader’s Office; Ofordi Nabokei, Policy Officer, Rebecca Eligon, Interim Head of Research and Consultation; Julian Ellerby, Divisional Director of Campaigns and Communication.”
Who invited these unelected council officers to sit on the Citizen’s Commission and what power do they have? I’m sure they all do a fine job serving as local authority civil servants. As has already been established, @SophiaLooney does a damn good job in opening up democracy in absence of any lead from the elected (and accountable) politicians.
But the role of honour of attendees that attended the first business meeting of the Citizen’s Commission is still absent of any genuine citizens.
And so what of the substance? The minutes are all fine and dandy in terms of explaining what happened at the talking shop, but they don’t tell you who was actually talking. Which renders them rather pointless.
“The meeting was told that a list of invitees had been drawn up, which aims to cover as many groups and communities as possible.”
It may have taken over a month for the minutes to be made public, but can we also please see the list of the invitees? An explanation as to how and why they were invited, and by whom, would also lead to a feeling of more transparency.
Like all good novels, the minutes then extend to add more detail as the plot develops:
“Plans for consultation and engagement with a wider audience than those who would attend the commission was broadly discussed.
I think the “wider audience” means actual citizens of the borough, and *not* politicians.
“It was felt that that a number of concrete case studies were needed to make the ideas stated in the White Paper come to life in a practical way.”
This no doubt refers to the co-operative “trials” that @cllrstevereed has been trailing, of which citizens know very little about.
Any other business?
And that’s about yer lot.
Fast-forward to 11th June, and the
Citizen’s Commission Co-operative Council Commission came together once again in Room 106 of Lambeth Town Hall. Our three high ranking @LambethLabour cabinet members were once again in attendance, although the civil servant list had been cut by 50%. I hope this isn’t a precursor to what the findings of the Citizen’s Commission might be.
“The meeting was told that over 500 people had been sent the co-operative council document and invited to submit evidence to the commission. The invite list, originally based on the council’s stakeholder list but now extended, includes resident and tenant groups, community interest groups, equalities groups (local and national) membership of the local strategic partnership, civil servants, think tanks, academics, and all local politicians.”
Where to start? Possibly with the belief that the council’s stakeholder list was initially thought of as being sufficient to carry out a public consultation. Hurrah all round for realising the errors of the Commission’s way; a big yah boo sucks for still not inviting any citizens to join the farce of the Citizen’s Commission.
The role call of “resident and tenant groups, community interest groups, equalities groups (local and national) membership of the local strategic partnership, civil servants, think tanks, academics, and all local politicians” couldn’t be more inclusive if it was rolled out as part of a secret society.
It reads like a local authority policy document designed to deter everyday people from actively taking a part in shaping the future of their neighbourhood.
Oh, hang on…
It’s all about the Little People, stooopid.
Buried away at the base of the document is perhaps the one point of optimism coming out of the minutes:
“An open house commission session for all members of the public to come and ask questions and give their feedback about the white paper.”
This is a start, but it’s still not enough. If @lambeth_council is genuinely serious about forming a co-operative council, then it needs to start by allowing citizens to actually sit on the Citizen’s Commission.
The publishing of the minutes, over a month after the first meeting, is genuinely appreciated, but it has come after repeated calls to be more transparent if the whole process is going to be taken seriously.
I can find very little substance within the minutes to convince me that the Citizen’s Commission is nothing but a same as it ever was inflated body of local politicians and civil servants, all sitting around a Town Hall table with tea and biscuits.
Probably bought from the co-op as well.