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From: Peter Silverman [mailto:p@petersilverman.com]
Sent: 18 September 2009 16:22
To: Ray Puddifoot (Leader LBH)
Cc: Nick Hurd (MP For Ruilsip Northwood); John McDonnell (MP Hayes& Harlington); John Randall (MP Uxbridge); Hugh Dunnachie - Chief Executive, LB Hillingdon
Subject: Governance Of The Council


I am writing to express my concerns about the way the Council is handling its duties under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.

I have read the recent article in the People Magazine – “Have your say –new governance arrangements for Hillingdon”. I have also studied the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 to which it refers.  My understanding of this legislation is that:

Local Authorities (LAs)  such as LBH with old style Leader and Cabinet arrangements must change their  governance arrangements to a either new style Leader and Cabinet or to an Elected Mayoral arrangement.  (Schedule 4 Part 1 3 (1) and Para 64 33A).   The decision has to be made by 31st December.  The prescribed sequence of events would appear to be as follows:

Before drawing up its proposals the LA must take reasonable steps to consult electors.
The proposals may provide for the change to be subject to a referendum.
They must be published in newspapers and made available for inspection. (Para 64  33E)

A resolution of the Council is then required to implement change. (Para 64  33F)
The resolution must be passed  at a specially convened meeting before 31st Dec 09.  (Schedule 4 Part 1 3 (4))

However, as far as I can see the Council:

Did not consult the electors before drawing up its proposals
Did not publish its proposals in the newspapers

Instead it went ahead and passed a resolution to adopt at the  new style Leader and Cabinet option at its 6th Nov 2008 Council Meeting. The resolution said “Resolved that the Council adopt the Leader(appointed by Council) and Cabinet Executive (appointed by Leader) leadership model as specified in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007….” There was no indication that the decision and could be amended after seeking the views of residents. 

The report submitted to that Council Meeting said:  “In Hillingdon if it were proposed to change to the Mayor and Executive model, consultation with local electors would need to take place before proposals were drawn up after which they would have to be publicised widely in the area. It is recommended however that Council adopt the Leader and Executive model. This requires a resolution of the Council….”

This is clearly  wrong as consultation with electors has to take place before any proposals are drawn up.
 
It would appear that the Council has realised that it had failed to comply with the Act and decided to back track.  The article in the September People Magazine described the Council decision of the 6th November 2008 as only an agreement “in principle”.  It said “before final proposals are drawn up councils must ask for resident’s views” and that the closing date for comments is 30th September.

The Act was given Royal Assent in October 2007.  The Council have had almost 2 years to seek the views of electors, draw up its proposals, circulated them for discussion.  Instead it is now having to compress  the whole process into 4 months.

To remedy matters I suggest that the Council applies to the Secretary of State to extend the resolution period beyond 31st Dec 2009 (Schedule 4 Part 1 3 (5)) and initiates a referendum giving electors the opportunity to decide which form of Governance they want.

I would appreciate your comments.

Peter Silverman
www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk   
20 Kingsend, Ruislip, HA4 7DA
01895 625770

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Extract from Agenda and Reports for Council Meeting of 6th November 2008 demonstaring that  advice given to meeting was consultation with local electors was not necessary to pass a resolution changing the model of governance

ITEM 7 REVIEW OF THE CONSTITUTION AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT IN HEALTH ACT 2007
Reporting Officers: Head of Democratic Services and Borough Solicitor
Executive Arrangements (sections 62-76 of the Act)
3rd Para

Most local authorities (except districts with population of less than 85,000) will be required to adopt one of two Leadership models:

�� a Councillor elected as Leader of the Executive by the authority and two or more Councillors appointed by the Leader (not elected by the annual meeting as at present). (maximum of ten Members of the Executive as now); or

�� a directly elected Mayor and two or more Councillors appointed to the Executive by the Mayor (maximum of ten Members of the Executive).

Both Leaders and directly elected Mayors will serve for a term of four years. An Executive Leader has to be elected at the annual meeting immediately following the ordinary election of Councillors and serves until the annual meeting after the next ordinary election of Councillors.

London Boroughs are required to pass a resolution to adopt one of the new Leadership models by 31 December 2009. The process leading up to this decision depends on whether it is proposed to adopt a different form of Executive or vary the current arrangements. In Hillingdon, if it were proposed to change to the Mayor and Executive model, consultation with local electors would need to take place before proposals were drawn up after which they would have to be publicised widely in the area. It is recommended however that Council adopt the Leader and Executive model. This requires a resolution of Council, proposals for change to be drawn up including a timetable and any transitional arrangements. A number of amendments to the Constitution will be required and these are set out at Appendix A.

Link to Agenda & Reports Nov 6th Council Meeting

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Extract from Minutes of Council Meeeting of 6th November 2008 demonstrating that the the Council formally adopted the Leader & Cabinet model and amended the Constitution accordingly and that it was not just an agreement in principle as claimed in the September 2009 Hillingdon People

7. REVIEW OF THE CONSTITUTION AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT IN HEALTH ACT 2007 (Agenda Item 7)
RESOLVED: That
1.
Council formally adopt the Leader (appointed by Council) and Cabinet Executive (appointed by Leader) leadership model as specified in The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 with effect from the AGM immediately following the local elections in May 2010, and the appropriate amendments to the Constitution as set out in Appendix to the report subject to the removal of points 4 & 6.
2.
The current leadership model be continued up to that time and the Head of Democratic Services be instructed to draw up a timetable, including any transitional arrangements that may be required for agreement with the Leader of the Council.
3.
The proposed amendments to Part 4 of the Constitution, as detailed below be approved with immediate effect:
Part

Link to Minutes

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From: Tony Ellis
To: Lloyd White
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 10:37 AM
Subject: Have your say: new governance arrangements for Hillingdon

17 Kewferry Road
Northwood
Middx  HA6 2NS
tel 01923 821237
 
23 September 2009
 
 
Dear Mr White
 
I am writing to you as Chairman of Northwood Residents' Association.
 
It is the NRA Executive Committees' view that the consultation process is too short and totally unsatisfactory. Hillingdon electors should be given the opportunity to take part in the debate with their elected representatives so that they are fully informed about the pros and cons of both types of local governance. The change is extremely important as it affects all residents and it should be subject to the full democratic process and the decision taken following a referendum, as was the case with the introduction of the Mayor for London.
 
From the information on the LBH website, it is obvious  that the Council, ie the Conservative majority party, has already decided which course of action it wishes to take and that it is only consulting to pay lip service to the legal niceties. No details have been published about how the results of the consultation process will be considered and how these results might change the views of the Council. Coming so soon after the poor consultation process involved with the introduction of the Hillingdon First Card, it would appear that the Council has little respect for democracy and the views of its electors. Rather like our present Government.
 
 
yours sincerely
 
 
Tony Ellis
Chairman - Northwood Residents' Association

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From: Tony Eginton [mailto:tonyegg@btconnect.com]
Sent: 24 September 2009 17:35
To: lwhite3@hillingdon.gov.uk
Subject: Have your say: new governance arrangements for Hillingdon

Dear Lloyd

The Council has asked for views on the governance arrangements in future.  Can you please record my view that the consultation process is flawed?

The period of the consultation has been very short, as you know the website did not include any information until very recently and the publicity has been restricted to Hillingdon People – at least for residents in the north of the Borough.  Certainly, in my view, there is a lack of “publicity widely in the area” which is what is stated in the report to Council in October 2008.

A SMS was issued on 14 September but suggested that there was a survey on the website.  As you know, there is no survey, just a request for emails or letters to be sent to you by 30 September (one assumes this year).  As far as I can see, there has been no correction to that SMS.

I do not really believe that there has been a serious effort to obtain informed opinions with a lack of information regarding the pros and cons for each choice.  Indeed the only document linked to the website is the Council agenda from November 2008.  It is necessary for individuals to trawl through the 36 pages to find the report on the 24th page.  I am sure you will agree that it hardly a way of encouraging replies except from the dedicated or sad.

I have to say that the report to Council’s meeting on 6 November 2008 seems to be incorrect as it suggests that a consultation was not required for the Leader option.  Could you please confirm if the report to Council in 2008 is still considered to be correct in this regard? 

If so, I am not sure why there should be any consultation.  Otherwise, can you please confirm that there will be a report to the next Council meeting explaining that a mistake was made and that the original decision was therefore not legal.

Regards

Tony Eginton
Councillor; Townfield Ward in the London Borough of Hillingdon

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From: LLoyd White [mailto:lwhite3@Hillingdon.Gov.UK]
Sent: 25 September 2009 15:34
To: p@petersilverman.com
Cc: Hugh Dunnachie; Raj Alagh; Cllr Raymond Puddifoot
Subject: New Governance consultation

Dear Mr Silverman,

The Leader of the Council has asked me to respond to your email to him dated 18 September concerning the proposed new governance arrangements for the Council.

Thank you for your comments on the consultation.

I can confirm that there will be a report to Council in November. It will be asking Members of the Council to decide, following the consultation exercise, to either ratify the in-principle decision taken a year ago or to vote in favour of the directly elected Mayor model.

As you correctly state, the Council has until 31 December 2009 to decide which leadership model to adopt. The consultation has commenced in good time before this date and gives people ample time in which to comment well in advance of the deadline date for the decision.

It is correct that the report in 2008 did not made clear that we were seeking an in-principle decision but this was the clear intention and the Council is perfectly correct to re-visit this issue at the next meeting. It is not entirely clear from the provisions of the 2007 Act as to whether consultation with the public is actually required. There has been confusion over this, so many, if not all, local authorities up and down the country, including Hillingdon, have decided to take the safest course of action by consulting with members of the public.

The 2007 Act does not prescribe how the consultation process is to be undertaken, either in content or in timing. This consultation has been carried out in good time for the Council to make a final decision and has featured in ‘Hillingdon People’, the local paper and on the web site. In order that people have adequate time in which to respond, I shall be extending the deadline for responses.

There is no requirement on the Council to hold a referendum at this stage.

I trust this clarifies the position but please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance.
 
Yours

Lloyd White
Head of Democratic Services
London Borough of Hillingdon
07960 569874 (m)
01895 250636 (w)
lloyd.white@hillingdon.gov.uk
www.hillingdon.gov.uk

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From: Hillingdon-Watch [mailto:petersilverman@hillingdon-watch.org.uk]
Sent: 27 September 2009 17:59
To: 'john.denham@communities.gsi.gov.uk'
Cc: Nick Hurd (MP For Ruilsip Northwood); John Randall (MP Uxbridge); John McDonnell (MP Hayes& Harlington); Ray Puddifoot (Leader LBH); Hugh Dunnachie - Chief Executive, LB Hillingdon
Subject: London Borough Of Hillingdon


Mr John Denham
Secretary of State
Department of Communities and Local Government
27th September 2009

Dear Mr Denham

I am writing to draw your attention to the unlawful actions of the London Borough Of Hillingdon (LBH) in carrying out its duties under Local Government and Public Involvement in Heath Act 2007. I would like you to intervene to ensure that electors are able to influence the choice of governance model (Elected Mayor or Leader/Cabinet) in a timely and considered manner.

Please refer to www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk (“Leader & Cabinet or Elected Mayor” page ) for links to the supporting information.

As you know the Act came into effect in October 2007. It gave  Councils until 31st December 2009  i.e. over two years to consult electors, draw up proposals (which may be made subject to a referendum), publish them and then pass a resolution to implement them at a specially convened Council meeting.

LBH did not follow this process.  Instead, without any consultations, they passed a resolution on 6th November 2008 to adopt the new Leader & Cabinet model.  The report from Officers advising Councillors said that, as they were recommending the Leader & Cabinet model, no consultation with electors was required.

Nine months later they must have realised their mistake and placed an article in the Hillingdon People Magazine asking for residents’ views before drawing up proposals. The topic was not one of the three items referred to on the front page or one of the eleven items listed on the contents page. It was not referred to in the Welcome article by the Leader of the Council.  The magazine was distributed at the beginning of September. The closing date for submissions was given as 30th September.  No mention was made of the option to make any proposals subject to a referendum.   LBH did not e-mail electors on their contact database nor issue a press release. 

The consultation process could have been initiated as early as  November 2007 and we could have  been given over a  year to discuss and debate the relative merits of the two governance models. Potential Mayoral candidates would have had the opportunity to put their hats into the ring.  Consideration could have been given to the past performance of Councils who had a adopted the different models.

After complaining to the Leader of the Council I was told by their Head Of Democratic Services that “The consultation has commenced in good time” and “ It is not entirely clear from the provisions of the 2007 Act as to whether consultation with the public is actually required. There has been confusion over this..”

Northwood Residents Association and Cllr Tony Eginton also complained about the flaws in the consultation process. Subsequently on 25th September the Council posted an article on their web site extending the consultation period to 15th October. No reference is made to it on the home page which gives more priority to a planned “Week of Peace”.  Four mouse clicks are required to find it.  Again, no reference is made to the fact that any proposals can be made subject to a referendum.

I believe that LBH’ actions are in breach of the Act’s requirements to take reasonable steps to consult electors.

[This unfortunately seems to be  part of a pattern of legal misinterpretation at LBH affecting citizen’s rights (go to “Unlawful Exclusions from Meetings” page).   I am also concerned that whatever feedback the Council does receive may not be accurately reflected in its published findings (go to “Misleading Press Releases” page )].

Mr Denham, could you please intervene to ensure our  rights are protected.   I appreciate that we may be running out of runway in view of the impending May 2010 local elections.  If nothing material can be done I trust that steps will be taken to identify and sanction those responsible.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Peter Silverman
www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk    
20 Kingsend, Ruislip, HA4 7DA
01895 625770

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From: Hillingdon-Watch [mailto:petersilverman@hillingdon-watch.org.uk]
Sent: 19 October 2009 15:16
To: Lloyd White (LBH Head Of Democratic Services)
Cc: Ray Puddifoot (Leader LBH); Raj Alagh (LBH Borough Solicitor)
Subject: Governance of the Council


Dear Mr White,

Leader & Cabinet or Directly Elected Mayor
Local Government and Public Involvement in Heath Act 2007


I understand that you have said that the decision as to the future governance model for LB Hillingdon  will be made at the Council meeting on 5th November.

On timing grounds this would seem to preclude the proposals being made subject to a referendum. This is disappointing as this was the overwhelming preference of the respondents to the recent poll of Hillingdon electors. See www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk/html/survey.html  

The Act says “Any resolution  to make the change in governance arrangements must be passed  at a meeting which is specially convened for the purpose  of deciding the resolution with notice of the object”  Please refer to www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk/html/guide_to_act.html

If the Council passes the resolution at a normal Council Meeting it will therefore be unlawful, just like the one passed at the 6h Nov 2008 meeting.  Will the Council now convene a special meeting?

I believe the future governance of the Borough  is of such widespread concern that the votes cast by each Councillor should be recorded.  What steps are required to ensure this will happen?

I have already expressed my concerns about the consultation process (see  www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk/html/leader_or_mayor.html ) but would like to add one more.  The Act it says  “Before drawing up its proposals, the local authority must take reasonable steps to consult the local government electors, and other interested persons in the authority's area.”  Has the Council taken any steps to consult the Residents Associations and other representative groups?

I hope this is of help and  look forward to hearing from you.

Peter Silverman
www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk   
20 Kingsend, Ruislip, HA4 7DA
01895 625770

----

 From: LLoyd White [mailto:lwhite3@Hillingdon.Gov.UK]
Sent: 19 October 2009 15:38
To: Hillingdon-Watch
Cc: Raj Alagh; Cllr Raymond Puddifoot
Subject: Re: Governance of the Council

Dear Mr Silverman,
 
thank you for your latest email.
 
Please be assured that the Council is fully aware of the legislative requirements of the Act and the report to Council will address all the issues you raise. With regard to the voting at the meeting it is for the Council to decide if it wishes to have a recorded vote on the matter.
 
Yours
 
Lloyd White
Head of Democratic Services
London Borough of Hillingdon
07960 569874 (m)
01895 250636 (w)
lloyd.white@hillingdon.gov.uk
www.hillingdon.gov.uk

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From: Hillingdon-Watch [mailto:petersilverman@hillingdon-watch.org.uk]
Sent: 02 November 2009 14:05
To: Hugh Dunnachie - Chief Executive, LB Hillingdon
Subject: LBH Governance -Misleading information provided to Councillors

Dear Mr Dunnachie,

Please find attached a complaint about misleading information provided to Councillors prior to the Nov 6th 2008 and the 5th Nov 2009 Council Meetings.

I would ask you to study it as a matter of urgency to ensure these issues are addressed prior to the forthcoming Council meeting.

 
Peter Silverman
www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk    
20 Kingsend, Ruislip, HA4 7DA
01895 625770


Formal Complaint To Chief Executive - Misleading Advice to Councillors

Attention: Hugh Dunnachie, Chief Executive London Borough Of Hillingdon

Complaint – Misleading Advice to Councillors (Governance)

By Peter Silverman 2nd November 2009

I wish to complain about the misleading information provided to LB Hillingdon Councillors by Mr Lloyd White, Head Of Democratic Services and Mr Raj Alagh, Borough Solicitor, (the Officers) in their reports to the Council prior to the Council Meetings of 6th November 2008 and 5th November 2009 concerning the implementation of governance changes under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.


Background

The Act requires the Council to take reasonable steps to consult electors, then to draw up proposals opting for either the new style Leader & Cabinet or the Directly Elected Mayoral governance models. It can choose to make its proposals subject to a referendum.  The proposals have to be published and then passed at a specially convened meeting of the Council.

Report to Nov 6th 2008 Meeting

This stated:  “In Hillingdon, if it were proposed to change to the Mayor and Executive model, consultation with local electors would need to take place before proposals were drawn up after which they would have to be publicised widely in the area. It is recommended however that Council adopt the Leader and Executive model. This requires a resolution of Council, proposals for change to be drawn up including a timetable and any transitional arrangements. A number of amendments to the Constitution will be required and these are set out at Appendix A”.

This is totally incorrect and misleading as the Act requires elector consultation before proposals are drawn up.

The officers have not apologised for misleading the Council.  They have not arranged for the consequent resolution to adopt the Leader & Cabinet model and the subsequent amendments to the Constitution passed at the meeting to be expunged.

Report to 5th Nov 2009 Meeting

On page 22 para 7 under the heading “The November 2008 Decision “ the report says: “Therefore the November 2008 resolution can only properly be regarded in practice as a decision by the Council to decide on its preferred model, which it is required in law to do, and then to use it as a basis for consultation”.

This too is incorrect and grossly misleading. 

Putting aside the unlawful nature of the Nov 6th resolution the Council is not required in law to decide on its preferred model before consulting the electorate.   Quite the opposite.   Section 64 33E (6) of the Act says “Before drawing up its proposals, the local authority must take reasonable steps to consult the local government electors …..”  

On page 22 para 9 the report says “in deciding what are reasonable steps that need to be taken an authority can legitimately take into account how radical the proposals are”.

Again this is incorrect and misleading.  As the consultations have to take place before the proposals are drawn up the consultation process cannot take into account how radical the proposals are going to be.  At least not without the benefit of time travel.

In paragraph 9 they go on to say “It is for an authority to determine what constitutes a reasonable period for the consultation process to take place” That may be correct but the Officers are not the Council.  I can see no evidence that the Council i.e. our elected Councillors were consulted about the consultation process prior to its launch in September of this year.

(I can only speculate that these statements were made in order to attempt to justify the grossly inadequate consultation process about which I will be making a separate complaint.)

An examination of Appendix 1 shows that of the 123 responses from the consultation process 12 were in favour of the Leader & Cabinet Model, 38 in favour of an Elected Mayor and 71 in favour of a referendum.  However, in paragraph 11 of their report the Officers chose not to quote the latter figure. Instead they just refer to the fact that “a number of responses received have called for a referendum to be held”

This paragraph is therefore misleading as it does not give an accurate summary of the views expressed, in the main body of the report.

In paragraph 12 reference is made to the survey commissioned by myself.  Again the figure for the number of respondents asking for a referendum has been omitted.  (Of the 500 people phoned by the market research company 315 were in favour of a referendum, 65 against and 120 did not have a view).  This paragraph is therefore misleading as it omits an important figure.

In both instances the figure for those favouring a referendum has been suppressed.

On page 24 paragraph 19 the report says that the proposals may provide for the changes in governance to be subject to a referendum. Para 20 goes on to say that there is no statutory obligation on the part of the Council to do this.   Para 21 describes the provision of the Local Government Act 2000 that there has to be  a petition of 5% of the electorate before a referendum can be held and says that no such petition has been received.

While these statements are correct they are misleading in the context of a report about the LGPIH Act.  The Act makes it clear that a Council can choose to make its governance change proposals subject to a referendum.  There is no additional requirement for a petition. 

In Appendix 2 para 5 the Officers say “The council will not hold a referendum”.  Again this is misleading as it implies that a decision has already been made.  It is of course up to the Councillors to decide to whether or not the proposals will be subject to a referendum. 

Peter R Silverman
20 Kingsend
Ruislip
Middlesex
HA4 7DA
petersilverman@hillingdon-watch.org.uk

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Chief Executive’s Reply to Complaint




Mike Cox’s Speech at Dec 2009 Council Meeting

 
Madam Mayor

Before I express my very serious concerns about the way in which this Council is opening itself wide open for a legal challenge I just wanted to thank the administration for dealing with the main concern I expressed at the previous meeting about the prospect of having a Leader imposed on us at the 1st meeting who could have been in place for all 4 years whether the ruling party liked it or not.
The proposed change to the constitution to rectify this is welcomed.

However, I believe this Council has FAILED to take the “reasonable steps to consult the electorate” on this important matter.  
The reasonable steps which MUST be taken, if they are to be legal, are that the consultation be

         Timely….it clearly wasn’t
         Provide adequate information…….it most certainly didn’t, and
         Take proper consideration of the result….which it manifestly did NOT DO

In so doing this Council has treated the people of Hillingdon with complete disdain. If you do not agree with me, which I appreciate many of you rarely do, you need to answer the following questions:

Why, when the legislation was put forward in Oct 2007, did this Council wait until September 2009 to consult the electorate and initially give them only a month to respond? And then only after Mr Silverman created a fuss. Was that Timely?

Why, when the Council finally got round to it, by placing an article in the Hillingdon People, was there no reference to it on the front cover or in the list of contents. Could it have been a rushed after thought?

Why were the Residents Associations and Chambers of Commerce not consulted? Why were no leaflets, communications or emails to residents or street champions? Could it be that this Council are not interested in their views?
Much was made in the previous meeting of the low level of response from this flawed consultation implying that we could therefore ignore the views of those that did respond.  Madam Mayor it is hardly surprising it was so low.   It is surprising we got any response at all. If it were not for the diligent work of Mr Silverman our responses would have been as pitiful as the rest of London.

Had this Council done the job properly the people of Hillingdon could have been briefed on the issues in January 2008 and given a full year to research and debate the relative merits of the two models.  

It would still have been up to this meeting to make the final decision but it would have been a decision made in the light of a proper and considered consultation with the people we represent and in line with legislation.  As this Council has NOT done this there is always the risk that tonight’s decision could be challenged at any time in the future.

 
Mike Cox
Councillor for Ruislip Manor
Leader of the Hillingdon Lib Dem group