Council services by letter

Agenda item

||

MOTION - FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

The following Motions have been notified in accordance with the requirements of Council Procedure Rule 14, to be moved and seconded by the Members indicated:-

 

(1)             Freedom of Information

 

 

To be moved by Councillor Paul Osborn and seconded by Councillor Barry Macleod-Cullinane:

 

 

“This Council fully supports the plan put forward by the Director of Legal & Governance Services in ‘The Lawyer’ magazine to automatically publish all information that could be disclosed under an FOI request on the Council’s website.

 

This plan will:

 

  • further the understanding of and participation in the public debate of issues.

 

  • promote accountability and transparency in decisions made by the Council.

 

  • promote accountability and transparency in the spending of public money.

 

This Council fully supports the transparency agenda and welcomes public interest in its activities and decisions. Harrow could be an exciting example of a public authority showing what you can do when you think of the FOI Act as an opportunity, not a burden. It is committed to turning the traditional edifice on its head and moving away from the defensive position of keeping everything to itself and towards making information public whenever possible. This Council wants to be one which publishes information because it wants to, not because it has to.

 

This Council therefore instructs the Chief Executive to work with the Director of Legal & Governance Services and other senior officers in bringing this plan to fruition as soon as possible.”

 

 

(2)             Local Government Association

 

 

To be moved by Councillor Barry Macleod-Cullinane and seconded by Councillor Susan Hall:

 

 

“This Council believes that the Local Government Association (LGA) should properly recognise the full reality of the reduction in government funding faced by local authorities, both in terms of the subscription charged to member authorities and in decisions taken about its Chief Executive’s pay and conditions.

 

This Council therefore instructs the Chief Executive to write to the LGA to ask that Harrow’s subscription be reduced proportionate to the reduction in central government funding to free up more money to pay for front line services to the benefit of Harrow residents.

 

Furthermore, should the LGA not agree to such a reduction and not respond before the close of business (5pm) on 28th March, this Council instructs the Chief Executive to immediately write to the LGA, ensuring receipt of this letter by 31st March, giving the required 12 month’s notice of Harrow’s intention to withdraw from the LGA, with such withdrawal to take effect from 1st April 2012.”

 

 

(3)             EU Funding

 

 

To be moved by Councillor Susan Hall and seconded by Councillor Barry Macleod-Cullinane:

 

 

“This Council notes that whilst Harrow is facing a reduction in its financial settlement in 2011/12, the UK’s contribution to the European Union (EU) is set to rise by 60% over two years.

 

This Council notes that, despite the opposition of some Conservative MPs, and Labour and Conservative MEPs, it is likely that the government will agree to a further 2.9% increase in the overall EU budget.

 

This Council believes the EU should be treated the same as the other tiers of government and in these austere times should share responsibility, along with central and local government, for public spending reductions.

 

This Council therefore instructs the Chief Executive to write to Harrow’s three MPs urging them not to support an increase in the EU budget.”

 

 

Minutes:

(i)                 At item 18(1), the Council received a replacement Motion, in the tabled papers, in the names of Councillors Paul Osborn and Barry Macleod-Cullinane with the following terms:

 

“This Council fully supports the plan put forward by the Director of Legal & Governance Services in ‘The Lawyer’ magazine to automatically publish all information that could be disclosed under an FOI request on the Council’s website.

 

This plan will:

 

·           further the understanding of and participation in the public debate of issues;

 

·           promote accountability and transparency in decisions made by the Council;

 

·           promote accountability and transparency in the spending of public money.

 

This Council fully supports the transparency agenda and welcomes public interest in its activities and decisions.  Harrow could be an exciting example of a public authority showing what you can do when you think of the FOI Act as an opportunity, not a burden.  It is committed to turning the traditional edifice on its head and moving away from the defensive position of keeping everything to itself and towards making information public whenever possible.  This Council wants to be one which publishes information because it wants to, not because it has to.

 

This Council therefore instructs the Chief Executive to work with the Director of Legal and Governance Services, other senior officers and Councillors of all parties in bringing this plan to fruition as soon as possible – with a full report brought to Cabinet within the next 12 months.”

 

(ii)               There was an amendment proposed in the names of Councillors Graham Henson and Victoria Silver, which sought to amend the Motion to read as follows:

 

“This Council fully supports openness and transparency and welcomes public interest in its activities and decisions.

 

This Council will publish information not because it has to, but because it wants to.  However, this Labour-led Council believes that 'open government' should go well beyond the publication of information and data.  This Council will continue to seek every opportunity to not only inform residents about what their Council is doing in a way that is truly transparent but , more importantly, to actively involve and engage them in issues affecting their community.”

 

(iii)             Upon a vote, the amendment at (ii) was carried.

 

(iv)              Upon a further vote, the substantive Motion at (ii) was carried.

 

RESOLVED:  That the substantive Motion, as set out at (ii) above, be adopted.