Saturday, 1 March 2014

District Council meets to consider issue of Lobbying ..... ..... but ..... "What is lobbying?"

The question of 'what is lobbying' has long-vexed the District Council:
Futures Forum: District Council meets to consider issue of Lobbying ... Weds 26th February
Futures Forum: Lobbying

But the motion was rejected by Council:

But what IS lobbying? 

Confusion breaks out over motion to encourage greater openness

Thursday, 27 February 2014 7 Comments by Claire
My motion on lobbying last night, caused an outbreak of confusion and head scratching among the conservative group, who said they couldn’t understand it, or what was meant by “lobbying.”
My (apparently very confusing) motion was this:
“Openness and transparency in the planning process is vital. This council therefore agrees to include an item on the agenda of all development management committee and planning inspections committee meetings, requiring members of those committees to declare if and who they have been lobbied by, about items on the agenda.”
In my speech I explained that I had been asking for this issue to come before overview and scrutiny committee, which had eventually referred it to the standards committee. but despite several requests, the standards committee had not put it on their agenda.  I had given up asking I said, and lodged a motion instead.
Cllr Bloxham didn’t like it because he said the motion, along with others I had lodged previously “impugned councillors integrity,” which he said was the “worst thing.”  He went on to say it was “unclear” and asked what was meant by the term lobbying.
Cllr Moulding said he was lobbied all the time about issues and suggested this would cause him problems in the council chamber. He also said the motion was unclear.
Luckily, Cllr Trevor Cope (ind) knew what lobbying meant and who it applied to. He spelt it out to the conservative group in loud slow tones, as though talking to a child. 
It didn’t work. Cllr Philip Skinner still didn’t understand.
Nor did development management committee chair, Cllr Helen Parr. She said that her committee went through training when they took up their position. She also asked what was meant by lobbying.
Cllr Ben Ingham joined Cllr Cope in attempting to explain what was meant by the word “lobbying.”  He suggested it meant an approach from either the applicant or agent.
But Cllr Tom Wright was still confused, as was Cllr Mike Allen.
With such a lot of confusion about the place, it was proposed, by Cllr Helen Parr I believe, to refer the issue of lobbying to the standards committee.
This was supported by most councillors, including me.  Let’s hope that this time it actually makes it onto the agenda.
1. At 08:37 am on 28th Feb Roger Giles wrote:
The lack of comprehension of a straightforward proposal by Conservative councillors who spoke was a wonder to behold. 
Philip Skinner asked whether Parish Councils would be considered lobbyists; Parish and Town Councils are of course statutory consultees on planning applications.
Andrew Moulding was worried that he would have to make multiple declarations on all sorts of things that people regularly talk to him about. And what would he have to do about any marches that took place?  But he is not on the Development Management Committee; and the DMC agenda normally contains planning applications to be decided - not pot holes and all the other things that the public takes up with their councillors. But in defence of Andrew he did seem rather confused generally on Wednesday night; he claimed that he lived in Axminster, but a friendly soul reminded him that actually he lived in Musbury.
2. At 10:31 am on 28th Feb Cllr Mike Howe wrote:
I am a member of the DMC and was not able to attended the full council this week but for me we do need to try and be open and pragmatic about this and I hope that a way forward can be achieved. But my concern is simple if I forget to declare a discussion, phone call or email what will happen, I can get anything from 0 to 50 letters emails and phone calls a month wanting to point something out or enlighten me, and what about my own ward, if there as there has been some contentious issue, do I make a open declaration that people have spoken to me or will I have to list all individually, I am not saying this proposal is wrong only we need to get a sensible workable way forward, that won’t make the declarations longer than the DMC meeting as is.
3. At 10:40 am on 28th Feb Graham wrote:
According to the Oxford Dictionary the definition of Lobby is - seek to influence (members of legislature) Would promoting and representing the interest of major landowners and developers through the channel of the the East Devon Business Forum as some EDDC councillors do, be considered lobbying?
4. At 11:02 am on 28th Feb Claire wrote:
Hi Mike, thanks for your comment. That’s a reasonable concern, but I don’t think it actually need be very difficult, I proposed on Wednesday evening that all it need be was a declaration on whether committee members had been lobbied. And whether this was by people in favour of the application or against. I don’t see the need for listing everyone’s name at the meeting.
5. At 02:43 pm on 28th Feb Sandra Semple wrote:
Perhaps what David Cameron said about lobbying in 2010 may enlighten Mr Moulding - he called it (then) “the next big scandal”.  Unfortunately, few people realised that he was talking about his own side.
6. At 04:57 pm on 28th Feb Cllr Douglas Hull Deputy Lib/ Dem Leader wrote:
Dear Claire   I proposed the amendment to your motion ” not dear Helen”.    I did not want to see your motion thrown out by our dear Tory Councillor who oppose anything that doesn’t come from themselves.  Now your motion lives to be fought for again.  I often wonder where you get all this energy from. I did enjoy myself on Wednesday evening.  
All the Best Douglas Hull
7. At 09:19 pm on 28th Feb Claire wrote:
Sorry Douglas there was a lot going on wasn’t there!  Glad you enjoyed yourself. It was certainly lively
http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/motion_urges_more_transparency_at_eddc/ [November 2013]

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