Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Part 7 - Why being fair, open and honest is vital

One of the saddest aspects of the debates concerning Park Lane and Churchfields is how some people have felt duped and cheated.

Most people are instinctively fair minded.  They realise that not everyone shares the same views - but the important thing is to listen to all sides of the discussion before coming to a judgement.

Unfortunately those leading the way in their opposition to the potential sale of Park Lane and the proposals for Churchfields have ignored the need to be fair and balanced.

Take the first ad hoc meeting called about the Churchfields proposals.

That meeting was called by those who had taken informal 'art of the possible' plans from FTC's offices before the council had even considered them.  They were never intended to be the final proposals - or even possibly proposals to consult about.  They were simply drafts.  They were taken from FTC's offices and presented to residents in and around Churchfields as if they were the finished article.  They weren't and never were.

This 'stunt' as I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs gave rise to a formal complaint against one Councillor.  An independent panel found that he had breached the Councillor's Code of Conduct over this.  Much tiunnecessary unpleasantness was caused.

The meeting last Saturday was called by those trying to mobilise public opinion regarding the potential sale of Park Lane and the revised plans for Churchfields play area.

The meeting was arranged so that those opposing could speak without challenge - and without time restriction.  No agenda was published, no advance warning of what was to be discussed was given.  Anyone after the original speakers was given only 2 minutes to make their point.  The Town Council was not given any proper balanced opportunity to present its position or respond - and people at the meeting, even those who may perhaps disagree with what the council is planning to do noticed the unfairness.

Whilst 2 minutes is more than enough to make a short point and pose a question - it isn't long enough or indeed fair to anyone who seeks to give an answer or indeed pose a question to 'the other side.'

This is my 7th blog posting about this affair - and even though I am writing 'economically' there is still more that could be written and stated.

I have no problem with anyone having a different view to mine.  I have no problem with anyone seeking to persuade people that their view is the correct one.  That is free speech and democracy.  The more the better please.

I have a problem with people who present things unfairly and unreasonably and who act in an undemocratic way.  I have a major problem with people who lie and misrepresent things and especially those that stir up the public with lies and 'misinformation.'

So, for example I have no problem with discussions about:

  • whether Park Lane play area should be sold;
  • what play scheme, if any, should we put in at Churchfields...
in fact I positively encourage it - as the more views we all listen to the better any decisions made are likely to be.

However I have a major problem with anyone who accuses FTC acting in some inappropriate, secretive or furtive manner. The council has not acted in secrecy; it cannot act in secrecy as a matter of law even if it wanted to.   Anyone can inspect any of the agenda, reports and minutes. The vast majority of us believe in the democratic principles where honesty, integrity and openness come first.