Purdah must not be used to stifle debate and avoid controversial discussions, say Greens
Councillors have raised concerns over the use
of pre-election guidance known as ‘purdah’ after key proposals around
homelessness and climate change were pulled from the agenda of a planned
council meeting today.
Usual procedure grants political groups the opportunity to put forward two proposals each – known as ‘notices of motion’ – for debate at a meeting of Full Council. Yet the decision to pull all notices of motion from the upcoming agenda means that planned items on housing, ending ‘no fault’ evictions and supporting student demands for climate action will no longer be considered by Councillors.
Greens say that plans to push ahead with the council meeting despite removing Councillor proposals is an affront to democracy and have expressed concern over the lack of remaining opportunity for the public to hear important debate. The notices of motion scheduled for 28th March would have been the last proposals to be considered under the current Labour Council leadership.
Convenor of the Green Group, Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty commented:
“We were only told that political proposals wouldn’t be allowed when we had already gone through the usual process of submitting notices of motion. Despite having the date of this meeting in the diary for months, Labour took their eye off the ball and this means key debates have now been pulled from this council meeting – the last under the current Labour leadership.
“Greens had put forward for debate issues we know concern our communities: proposing motions on ending no-fault evictions, boosting support for our homelessness organisations, backing the demands of students wishing to bring an end to runaway climate chaos. We share the disappointment of our residents who were awaiting and anticipating debate on these issues.
“Sadly we also find ourselves concerned about the timing of this move. Unfortunately, this Labour Council has form when it comes to resisting scrutiny – they have sought to minimise the number of questions allowed at committee meetings, to restrict the nature of public involvement and their previous leader Cllr Warren Morgan frequently hinted at the need for a ‘behind closed doors’ cabinet system of council decision making. Despite not being allowed for debate, Greens will continue to champion the issues of climate change and homelessness, critical issues for our city.”