Any problems? A better way to conduct Colchester Council meetings

This morning I posted about last night’s Colchester Borough Council meeting, which took over four hours to (mostly) debate national issues it hasn’t got a hope of changing or influencing.

The reason? Because a sizeable number of councillors like to treat it as a party political playground – a sort of pretend Parliament for pre-schoolers. And sure enough, when you get exchanges like this, the temptation to stick one over on the other side is almost irresistible.

I wouldn’t mind so much if council meetings weren’t dominated by national issues. And I wouldn’t mind so much if even straightforward local issues weren’t so often the subject of partisan punch ups. Again, as Jason from the Colchester Chronicle put it.

Yes, a cycle path became the focus of accusations about political skulduggery.

But – and happily this is a very positive but – once the Punch & Judy bit was over, something much more useful happened.

Councillors from three different parties all shared information about the cycle path and promised to help each other get the issue sorted. 

And that’s got me thinking. Why don’t we have a section in Full Council called ‘Any problems?’

All we would have to do is put aside 30 minutes for councillors to share any problems they have in their wards, and ask others of all political allegiances for advice or help. There’s a lot of experience across that chamber, plus there are people who also sit in the County Council who have extra information and and useful contacts. It would be collaborative, helpful, and constructive.

And more to the point, it would be for the good of the Borough.

Far more so than arguing about whether national policy is bad for Colchester. Because national policy is rarely made with Colchester in mind.

By contrast, what we do in the council chamber should.

Any problems, anyone?

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