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District Council shenanigans

April 26, 2018 2:26 PM
By Cllr Eleanor Rylance
Originally published by East Devon Liberal Democrats

Well, last night at full council was certainly lively. Two motions were submitted by the East Devon Alliance. Both were fairly uncontroversial to a person of average levels of empathy. The text of the two motions as submitted were:

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1) Motion about cuts to services in local hospitals.

"That this Council resolves to welcome the proposal of the Devon CCGs to develop place-based health care, the RD&E's launch of community health conversations in Eastern Locality towns, and the aim of community involvement in supporting statutory services. Noting also the CCGs' intention to announce their Estates Strategy following these conversations, this Council requests the NHS organisations to observe the following principles:

1. All community hospitals which have lost beds should be maintained as health hubs.

2. Wherever possible, services and clinics should be moved out of Exeter to local community hospitals.

3. More outpatient services should be provided in each community hospital, with no overall cuts to the level of services in any town in order to minimise complex journeys between towns."

Proposed by Councillor Marianne Rixson Seconded by Councillor Val Ranger

2) Motion about acknowledging our responsibilities and undertakings as a council to house 8 families of vulnerable Syrian families currently living in camps around the edges of Syria- Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon principally.

"Syrian Vulnerable Persons Scheme "That this council recognises the dire situation in Syria, and agrees to fulfil its stated commitment to resettle at least 8 families under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Schemewhich runs from 2015 to 2020."

Proposed by Councillor Roger Giles

Seconded by Councillor Peter Faithfull

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Both if these motions were designed to further the good of the people of East Devon. Both were, predictably, hijacked by the Conservative group. The "amendment" proposed by the conservative group to the hospital Motion was so lengthy that they'd taken the precaution of having the thing printed up in advance- in size 11 font it occupied 2/3 Several councillors including Cllr Steve Gazzard are partially sighted. Some are dyslexic and simply cannot read very quickly.

When I stood up to point out that this in no way was democratic, since we were being asked to vote on a motion that hardly any of us had seen, and some could not absorb at all, I was shouted at to "sit down!" by the Chairman Cllr Andrew Moulding, and informed that this was in fact "more than democratic". Quite what "more than democratic" means is unclear.

In my opinion it is extremely undemocratic that every single motion put forwards by a member of one two non-ruling groups is eviscerated by the Tory group and re-presented as their own work. It's almost like they favour tribalism over doing the best for their constituents. The proposed motions are published a fortnight ahead- in fact there were members of the public who had taken the trouble to travel from afar to speak on both motions last night, and to ask council to support them. The proposer of this so-called "amendment", which was in fact a completely re-writing, could have got in touch with Cllr Rixson to make suggestions for improvements. Instead he chose to destroy it in public at extremely short notice.

The second motion was also quite unnecessarily amended in my view, since it was simply a reiteration of the council's existing duty to welcome 8 Syrian vulnerable families currently living in camps in the Middle East. The proposed "amendment" was entirely pointless, other than to hijack a motion.

The Conservative group has done this with every single motion I've seen put forwards by the Liberal Democrats or the East Devon Alliance in the last year -including the very anodyne motion 2 months ago about reducing the use of single-use plastics by council- for a long time now. It has to stop. One can only hope that a more collaborative, issue-based approach will emerge under the new leadership of the Tory group, because what we have at present is most certainly not doing the best it can for residents.