Council Transparency – Letter to Editor

The Editor,

Rutherglen Reformer

4thNovember 2018

Dear Sir,

I think Dorothy Connor (Letters 31stOctober 2018) rather misses my point in her comments on the issue of the transparency of South Lanarkshire Council.

The central problem is that most key decisions are delegated to the Council’s Executive Committee rather than being decided by the full Council. In my view the full Council should be the main democratic forum for debate and decision on important issues – partly because it gives all Councillors a voice, and partly because it will attract greater publicity and therefore the issue is more likely to be heard and seen by the public. As Dorothy Connor rightly says, Councillors are responsible to the public.

I was in fact the first Councillor, as far as I am aware, to make a fuss about this and to call for the Council to be opened up to public accountability in a more effective way. The key Budget decisions should certainly be made by the full Council but that is only the start. There should for example be a proper Question Time – as there is in many other Councils – where the Council Administration can be properly questioned on how they are carrying out their functions. I think too the public would be interested in “town hall” accountability meetings in local communities on issues of concern to them.

The SNP Administration did not cover itself with glory by rejecting the modest and reasonable proposals in the motion from Labour group Leader Joe Fagan and myself for the Liberal Democrats. However it is fair to say that the current arrangements where the full Council is too often a formality were established in the many years during which Labour ran the Council. It was only when Labour were put out of office last year that they had a ‘road to Damascus” moment. 

The reality is that the public are not effectively engaged in key Council decisions. This must change and a wholesale review of how the Council operates is long overdue.

Yours faithfully,

Robert Brown

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Rutherglen South

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