At last, the Council opens the door to Residents’ Voice

Residents will have greater involvement at council meetings if proposed changes are passed at this week’s council meeting. The changes have been welcomed by Our West Lancashire, the Independent group on West Lancashire Borough Council as a “large step in the right direction”.

Our West Lancashire have been campaigning for the change throughout this year, and a council working group was set up in response to a motion moved by Our West Lancashire councillor, Adrian Owens in April.

The proposed change will allow residents to ask questions and speak on any agenda items at cabinet meetings and the main committees of the council providing they give notice of their wish to speak and follow some broad guidelines.

Cllr Adrian Owens said “This welcome step forward has only come about because of the focus that Independents have put on it. Neither of the main parties was interested in giving residents a greater voice, but I’m delighted that we’ve pushed them forward on this.”

However Cllr Owens said that weaknesses remained. Residents could only speak and question items on the agenda, not raise new issues that a resident thought the council were neglecting or ignoring. The timetable proposed also meant that residents had only 48 hours or so to submit their application, the Our West Lancashire councillor said.

Cllr Owens concluded, “These restrictions show that there are clearly some people at the council who continue to regard residents as a nuisance rather than as the people we serve. We will continue to press for further changes. In recent months important information on recycling and fly tipping has been obtained, but I have had to ask questions on residents’ behalf and these changes won’t change that. Residents should be able to ask their questions direct, whether the item is on the agenda or not.”