Well – better late than never… That’s our reaction to the fact that Draycott Parish Council has at last entered the modern age, and has now – at last – started to fully publicise its decisions.
It seems unbelievable, but, up until the end of last year, the only reasonable way for local residents to find out what decisions the parish council were making in their name was to make an appointment to travel out of Draycott to see a paper document…!
This situation had become untenable for some residents; and, at the Annual Meeting of the Parish last year, a motion was put to the council pleading for full publication of the ‘minutes’ of council meetings, using notices put up on the village notice boards (or online).
However, some council members opposed this move, claiming that if residents wanted to know what decisions were being made by the council, they should come and sit through every meeting…
Council members also rejected offers of internet-help from volunteers.
At last, we are informed
However, suddenly, this year, there has been a complete reversal.
The decisions taken at each monthly meeting of the parish council are now recorded and published on our council’s website (though it can take up to two months for each set of decisions to be go online). There is also a policy of trying to retrospectively publish decisions taken in the last couple of years.
What’s more – there is now even a Draycott PC Facebook website.
Well – why the sudden change in policy?
Two things come to mind.
First – a new, young clerk was appointed to the job at Draycott Parish Council and took up the reins in January. Though ‘parish clerks’ are basically just the paid secretary of the council, they can make a huge difference to how councils function. Kate Bradshaw, the new clerk, has decided to drag the council into the modern age. Well done, Kate!
Secondly, the Government (similarly fed up with councils who refused to be completely open with their electors) brought in new rules last summer – the so-called Local Government Transparency Code. This code more or less forces reclusive councils to be more open. So, Draycott has had to react.
It is a shame that we have had to wait so long for this to happen. Neighbouring parish councils – Milwich, Checkley ,Forsbrook and Hilderstone – have been publicising their decision-making for some time, and did not have to wait to be persuaded.
Good – but improvement required
This latest is good news for local democracy – but more needs to be done.
So far this year, the ‘agendas’ sent out for each parish council meeting have been very slim on detail. They did used in the past to tell us exactly what was to be discussed. It would be good to see that policy back.
While it is terrific that the decisions of the council are now published on its website, the request at the Annual Parish Meeting last summer did also ask for the decisions to be put up as notices on the notice boards. Will this happen?
Make change happen…
If this article has rung bells with you; if you are the sort of person who would like to see the parish council and local electors more connected, have you considered standing as a parish councillor at the forthcoming election? It is now ninety-per-cent certain that there will be new faces on the council after May. You could be one to help modernise our council.
For more details on what you need to do, just click here. You need no special qualifications to stand.