Peter Golds: The Mayor doesn't answer questions

By Jon Massey on December 15, 2011 1:21 PM |

aa-nov25-Golds142WEBBY.jpgBy Peter Golds

The most recent Tower Hamlets Council meeting was held on the same day as the Chancellor's Autumn Statement.

At a time of financial crisis, a local council meeting can appear parochial, but that is the reason for its existence.

Residents who turned up to raise the future of The White Swan, how to save the Mother Levy Cottages from demolition and the parakeets in Millwall Park want their elected representatives to be local.

However, the meeting did have its surreal moments.

Imagine what would happen in Parliament if the Prime Minister, on being asked a question, sat silently and pointed to one of his colleagues to answer on his behalf?

It would be laughable. Sadly, that is what happens in our council.

The Executive Mayor, having decided to exercise all decision making, declines to answer questions and merely signals they should be referred to one or other of his close associates, who have no more executive power than the member seeking an answer.

Councillors voted to change procedure to request the mayor respond to questions. However this came with a bizarre 21st century twist.

My motion had to be re-worded - on grounds of the mayor's human rights and freedom of speech.

Tower Hamlets Council can always amaze - even on a day when attention was elsewhere.