E-mail to Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council 21st Oct 2009
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From: Hillingdon-Watch [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: 21 October 2009 15:03
To: Ray Puddifoot (Leader LBH)
Cc: Lloyd White (LBH Head Of Democratic Services); Raj Alagh (LBH Borough Solicitor); Nick Hurd (MP For Ruilsip Northwood); John McDonnell (MP Hayes& Harlington); John Randall (MP Uxbridge)
Subject: London Borough Of Hillingdon - Governance
Dear Cllr Puddifoot,
Leader or Directly Elected Mayor
Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007
I am writing to you with my further concerns about the way the Council is dealing with this matter. Whatever executive model is adopted the process must be in accordance with the provisions of the Act. If not, the new executive could be regarded as acting ultra vires i.e. without legal authority.
To date the Council has failed to adhere to the provisions. However this can be rectified.
Failure to properly consult electors prior to preparing its proposals
The Act says that local authorities must “take reasonable steps to consult local government electors and other interested persons”.
Although the Act came into force in October 2007 the consultation process was delayed until the beginning of September this year and ran to 15th October. It could have started almost 2 years earlier giving plenty of time for debate and discussion. The article in the September People Magazine launching the consultation was hidden away with no reference to it on the cover, in the contents or in your introductory article. No leaflets were distributed, no mail out to residents on the Councils e-mail list was made. The Residents Associations were not consulted and I gather even the Councillors were not directly informed. No press release was issued.
The People article and the Council’s web site gave details of the two executive models and asked for comments. They did not however mention the provision in the Act that “ the proposals may provide for the change in governance to be subject to approval at a referendum”. Anyone relying on the information provided by Council would not have had the opportunity express their preferences on this option.
Failure to call a special meeting
The Act says that “Any resolution to make a change in governance arrangements must be passed at a meeting which is specially convened for the purpose ..” Lloyd White , Head of Democratic Services has stated that the decision will be made at the Council meeting scheduled for the 5th November. This is however a routine meeting which will dealt with other issues. I asked him if the Council will convene a special meeting. He replied without giving an answer but said the Council is fully aware of the legislative requirements of the Act. I hope this is correct because it was not the case on the 25th September when he wrote to me saying “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…”
As can be seen from www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk/html/leader_or_mayor.html Tony Ellis, Chairman of Northwood Residents Association , Cllr Tony Eginton and Cllr Mike Cox have all written to the Council expressing their concerns about the consultation process.
A way forward
During the consultation period Hillingdon-Watch commissioned a market research company to carry out telephone survey of 500 LB Hillingdon residents. The key results were that only 11% felt sufficient time had been allowed for consultation, for every 1 favouring the Leader Model 3.3 were in favour of a Directly Elected Mayoral one and, most importantly, for every 1 against a referendum 4.8 were in favour. www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk/html/survey.html
In addition, Hillingdon Watch and Cllr Mike Cox have received copies of 68 e-mails to Lloyd White expressing the view that the proposals should ibe made subject to a referendum http://www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk/html/consulations.html.
The Council could use the survey to establish that a cross section of electors who had been properly informed of the options, including the fact that the proposals could be made subject to a referendum, had been consulted.
Matters could therefore be rectified if the Council now:
1. Takes advantage of the provision of the Act which says “The Secretary of State may by order provide that a permitted resolution period is to end later than the last day of the period specified…” and obtains an extension to the 31st December deadline by which the matter has to be resolved.
2. Issues its proposals making them subject to a referendum.
3. Carries out the referendum.
4. Passes a resolution at a specially convened meeting to put the new governance model into effect.
This I believe would protect the new Council executive from any legal challenge that it is not properly constituted on the grounds that it provided insufficient time, information and publicity for the consultation process and that the resolution was not passed at a specially convened meeting of the Council.
I hope this is of help and look forward to hearing from you.
20 Kingsend, Ruislip, HA4 7DA, UK
General discussion www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk/html/leader_or_mayor.html
Guide to the Act www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk/html/guide_to_act.html