It seems barely a few moments ago since I published a statement from Shropshire Council that the long promised review of the impact of regime of parking charges introduced in November 2018 is to be delayed until March. That was based on an email from the Chief Monitoring Officer at 2:31pm.
Alas, in the short time I was taking the dog and cat for a walk, all has changed. The Chief Monitoring Officer emailed at 3:35pm to say the review will take place as planned on Wednesday morning. There is no paperwork for this meeting. It will not be possible for unitary and town councillors to discuss what the council is planning beforehand, let alone the traders who are being penalised by the high street parking charges.
Is Shropshire Council just trying to keep us guessing? Possibly. But I think it has just descended into chaos. It can no longer service its central democratic function.
Democracy is essential for all public funding. The climate of discussion, debate and challenge is central to the way that local government runs.
Papers now routinely arrive late for meetings. Too often councillors receive unrecorded verbal briefings.
Democracy is difficult. Running local services in the current funding climate is difficult.
That’s why we need debate. Discussion. Challenge. Not a pantomine of confusion over whether a review of this or that is on or not.