A BID by Worcester’s Green Party to ensure public speakers at city council meetings receive a ‘well-considered’ and formal reply to their questions has won cross-party support.
The proposal was tabled by Coun Tom Piotrowski who reflected on his own experiences growing up in communist Poland in his bid to change Worcester City Council’s rules in how it treats public speakers.
Every committee and full council meeting has a standing agenda item reserved for public participation.
Any member of the public wishing to participate at a council meeting can notify the Democratic and Civic Services Manager no later than noon on the day before the date of the meeting and indicate the nature and content of their participation.
However, until now residents using their right to speak at the full council and committee meetings were not guaranteed to receive a reply to their questions.
Speaking after his proposal won cross-party support from the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat benches, Coun Piotrowski said he was delighted with the outcome.
“Until recently, members of the public could speak at council meetings, but they were not guaranteed that they will receive a formal reply to their questions or suggestions,” he said.
“That’s just not right and very undemocratic. We ought to be engaging with residents and encouraging them to share their views.
“Since residents have a right to hold us accountable and ask questions, they should be also guaranteed that they should receive a well-considered and formal reply to their question.”
Coun Karen Lewing seconded the proposal and said two-way communication is a key component if councillors are to successfully engage with local people.
“The public perception of local government is significant in motivating people to vote,” she said.
“We can see this in the low turnout at local elections. People need to feel that if they address a council meeting, they have a real opportunity to influence the decisions of the city council take and to solve some of the issues that local communities face.”
Coun Piotrowski added: “Democracy is far too serious a matter to be left to politicians. I know this from the first-hand experience of growing up in a non-democratic Communist state behind the iron curtain, where the views and voices of the public did not matter.
“We must not take democracy for granted and must make sure we do all we can to engage more people with it, starting at the local level.
Information about council meetings can be found on the council website. Alternatively call 01905 722005 for assistance or e-mail to [email protected]