Greens pressurise West Dorset to adopt committee system immediately

“Campaigners are urging council leaders in West Dorset to immediately honour the referendum result telling them to ditch their one party Cabinet.

More than 25,000 took part in the referendum about the Conservative only Cabinet on West Dorset District Council. Nearly 16,534 of them — a majority of nearly two to one — voted to scrap the Cabinet in favour of a decision making group made up of a mix of parties.

But the council says the changes won’t happen until May 2017, a year after the vote. Cllr. Kelvin Clayton, chairman of South and West Dorset Green Party, says this delay is “a slap in the face” for grass roots democracy.

Kelvin, a Bridport Town councillor, said: “You could send a manned space mission to Mars in less time than West Dorset councillors say it will take to rearrange the seating around their Cabinet table.

“People voted by a big majority to replace this unpopular single party Cabinet with a wider range of voices and opinions. So why don‘t they get on with it?

“I call on the Leader of the Council to explain why this implementation will take so long“.

The referendum was triggered by a petition from the non-political Public First Group. The council’s website says the cost of having to stage a vote is “regrettable”.

But Kelvin said: “Public First should be congratulated not criticised. If the council had listened to them in the first place this wouldn’t have gone to a vote. Local politics only works if local people feel they have a real say in the issues affecting their neighbourhoods. The latest decision to ignore the verdict of the referendum for the next 12 months is an insult to the 25,000 people who took the time and trouble to take part.”

The Green Party locally opposes Cabinet style government on West Dorset District and Dorset County Councils because it excludes other parties from real decision making and makes it harder for councillors from a mix of backgrounds and views working together for the common good.

Kelvin added: “How on earth can West Dorset Council’s leaders claim they want to listen to people when they behave like this. Some of the Cabinet appear to be living in the 19th. century. The rest of us are living in the 21st. It would be nice if they could join us.”