All change for Rasen councillors’ dialogue with locals?

Market Rasen EMN-170125-151431001
Market Rasen EMN-170125-151431001

A Market Rasen town councillor has suggested the council’s monthly surgeries may not be the most effective way of hearing the public voice.

At the council’s July meeting, Coun Martin Harvey said: “I would like to ask whether the town surgery is worth doing, because I often only speak to one person in the two hours.

“I would like to suggest involving the town surgery in events like the gardeners market - there’d be more people about for a start.

“I don’t think it’s worth somebody standing there for two hours to speak to one person.”

Coun John Matthews interjected with the issue of public participation at council meetings - stating that the council was not obliged to open the floor to topics which were outside items stated on the meeting agenda.

He said: “I have been advised as chairman that we could state that the only matters the public can address us on are matters on the agenda.”

Coun Harvey pointed out that members of the public can ask for items to be added - but that would be at the chairman’s discretion.

Coun Matthews said: “If we were to adopt that policy, the benefits of a public forum outside meetings are significant.

“But if we keep public participation at meetings open, then I think it adds weight to Councillor Harvey’s proposal that we reduce the amount of time spent in surgeries.”

The council resolved to continue with monthly surgeries for the rest of the year, and then look to review them.

The overall feeling was that though public participation at council meetings needs to be reviewed, councillors did not wish to ‘suppress’ the public from being able to bring up matters outside the agenda.