Open Letter to a transparent elected member – Scarborough Borough Councillor Bonnie PURCHON M.B.E.
- – NIGEL WARD shares his Letter to SBC Councillor Bonnie PURCHON, who spoke out recently about the ‘behind closed doors’ mind-set at Scarborough Borough Council.
Councillor Bonnie PURCHON – Scarborough Borough Council
May I offer you my thanks and appreciation, pursuant to your courageous statements to the Scarborough Evening News:
“I feel many important decisions that happen in this town are kept hush hush. We are supposed to be working closely with the general public and making workings more transparent, but that does not appear to be the case any more.”
“I did not stand as a ward councillor to make things easy for this council, I stood to put forward opinions and views of the local people in the North Bay.”
“I was informed by the chairman that we were there to approve the proposed sale of the land, not to vote on who would be the benefactor of the sale.”
“It appeared that a private decision had already been made before any vote was cast.”
In a rapid-fire exchange of emails with Mr Robert Goodwill yesterday, I had occasion to cite the words of Mr David Cameron, as reported in the Observer newspaper, Sunday last. Perhaps you have already seen them. I will repeat them here now for the benefit of our many readers:
“For too long, those in power made decisions behind closed doors, released information behind a veil of jargon and denied people the power to hold them to account. This coalition is driving a wrecking ball through that culture – and it’s called transparency”.
Mr Cameron has co-opted my wrecking-ball – though had I myself called it by that name, I would very likely stand accused of sedition.
My remarks to Mr Goodwill also included the following:
“In the coming ‘winter of discontent’, there will be a sharply defined polarization amongst all who are engaged in public service – those who are ready to throw open the shutters of governance versus those who batten down the hatches. You will be in no doubt as to where I stand.”
I made that clear when I successfully campaigned for SBC Officers’ Declarations of Interest to be published into the public domain, as are your own.
But returning to the present moment, what I wanted to say was that your fellow Councillors now know where you stand.
You are not alone.
Many Councils are Officer-led. As regulation has become almost incomprehensibly complex, it has been inevitable that full-time, specially trained professional personnel have acquired a knowledge vastly in excess of the elected members, for face a dauntingly steep learning curve.
But along the way, the Officers have allowed their expertise to be tainted by hubris – they really do believe that they know best.
They have lost their perspective on the fact that it is not for them to decide.
A democratically derived failure has more integrity than an autocratically derived success.
I am disappointed to see that some Councillors have already, perhaps rashly, used the words ‘populist’ and ‘electioneering’.
You are not alone – but neither are your opponents. The Scarborough Evening News also reported that:
“Several others abstained while some did not attend the meeting.”
The public has a right to know their names.
I hope that on deeper reflection they will recognise that a change is upon us. It will not be an incremental change. It will be radical and it will be sudden.
Mindful of the lessons of the century just passed, I am exerting all of my efforts to ensure that what comes to pass, however dramatic a departure from the past it may prove to be, will be an act of Evolution – not Revolution.
So I accept your statements to the press in good faith and I salute you and offer you my support. But not without condition. Do not waiver in your resolve.
Yours, with kind regards,