Gag would be threat to local democracy

Charmaine Morgan.
Charmaine Morgan.
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It is very easy to take our fragile democracy for granted.

Proposals from South Kesteven District Council’s Constitution Committee, despite an appeal by district councillor Mark Ashberry this week, show just how fragile it is.

At present it is possible for any district councillor to submit up to three motions with notice to full council so each councillor could bring three important matters to the attention of all councillors for debate if they so wish.

But some councillors argue that less time for debate is needed to ensure the council’s two-and-a-half hour meetings, which take place approximately every month to six weeks, do not over-run.

They propose to limit debate to only a total of two motions with notice at full council sessions.

When we look at the issues covered in The Journal last week alone, which included the continued uncertainty over Grantham Hospital services, the loss of mental health care in town, the significant expansion of our town with perceived poor public consultation, the threat to our carnival parade and the risk to our heritage assets, it is extremely worrying that councillors, elected to speak up, will be effectively gagged by the proposals, if they go ahead.

The issues we face now and in the near future make it all the more important to have healthy debate in South Kesteven District Council.

If this means councillors debating for a few more hours than planned - so be it.

l Cllr Morgan is Labour Group Chair on South Kesteven District Council and represents St Anne’s Ward