22nd May 2017
The new situation on South Lanarkshire Council – where no one Party has a majority – is a superb opportunity to open up the Council and make it more accessible and accountable to the public and to local communities. This was what Rutherglen Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brown told the first meeting of the new Council on Thursday.
The SNP are the largest Party on the Council – but they fall a long way short of having overall control and have already suffered 2 defections to bring their 27 Councillors down to 25 in a Council of 64 members.
Buoyed by a 50% increase in his own vote, Robert Brown secured undertakings from the new Council leader that a number of matters would be looked at.
Robert Brown said:
“South Lanarkshire Council should be much more open and accountable to its citizens and to the local communities in the 4 local areas, including Rutherglen/Cambuslang. The Council meeting itself has become a sham with hardly any major decisions being made by the full Council. Part of the reason is the restrictive nature of the procedural rules and the unnecessarily long time limits for lodging motions or questions. I am keen to see the Council itself restored to its full role.
Secondly the engagement with the public is poor. Why should there not be Town Hall meetings, perhaps quarterly where the Budget and other major issues are explained to local organisations and interested members of the public?
Thirdly the Area Committees should have greater powers over local services and priorities. At present they do little more than administer local voluntary sector grants. We need a review too of the way the Council deals with local consultation with the public and local groups – community councils, housing forums and neighbourhood management. The arrangements badly need revitalization.
Finally the fact that there is a minority administration should push the Council to be more open and inclusive, to involve the talents of Councillors of all Parties and of the many talented people in local communities.”