Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Smells like political interference...


There was a meeting of the Shipley Constituency Area Committee - one of Bradford's Area Committees - this evening. Item 10 on the agenda for the meeting was entitled:

Review of decision on gypsy/traveller encampments

The gist of this item was that the resolution of the Committee back in December was contrary to the Council's Constitution. The relevant part of the resolution said:

"That the Chief Executive, in consultation with other Local Authority Chief Officers that he considers appropriate, be requested to press the Government to introduce more robust legislation to deal with the problematic and persistent unauthorised encampments as part of a strategy to manage the needs of travelling communities."

The City Solicitor deems that this resolution is outside the remit of the Committee as it does not have "...the authority to instruct the Chief Executive to lobby the Government to change the law as that would be a policy decision."  According to the City Solicitor the Constitution states that Area Committees can only "contribute to the formulation" of policy.

Unfortunately the City Solicitor wasn't in attendance so could neither explain nor defend her decision. However, it seems to me that the Committee's resolution did not breech the Constitution since is does not "instruct" the Chief Executive, it "requests" an action from that person.

Moreover, since the issues that led to the resolution related directly to a series of events in Bingley - within the Shipley constituency - it seems to me that the Committee was acting well within its remit to:

"Consider and address issues raised through neighbourhood forums, liaison groups, parish and town councils and other community bodies"

Much though I like the City Solicitor, it seems to me that this decision raises two serious concerns:

1. The Committee has been constrained in seeking reasonable actions to address specific issues relating to the Area it serves

2. There was a four month gap between the original resolution and today's date - this seems an excessive time for one individual to consider a given resolution that raises concern

The whole affair smells a funny colour - call me a cynic but I sense political interference.


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