Windsor and Maidenhead councilors clash over constitutional amendments
The council’s communications protocol is a “recipe” for ruling conservatives to “spit out” their propaganda, the opposition said.
Tory councilors and opposing Liberal and Independent Democrats clashed over amendments to the Royal Borough constitution regarding planning, communications, gifts and hospitality at a plenary council meeting on Tuesday 23 November.
All advisers have agreed to change the constitution to record any multiple or recurring gift or hospitality, with an individual buyer less than £ 25 but a combined total of £ 50 over a three month period, received from an individual or a group, within 28 days of receipt
Another change, which was recommended by a multi-stakeholder constitution working group, included adding a communications protocol on how best to interact with residents and disseminate information. It also specifies how members and officers deal with the media.
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He notes that council communications cannot be used for partisan political purposes.
But it sparked a clash with the opposition, who said it could be used as a “recipe” for the Conservatives to use the communications department to “spit out” their propaganda and “blatant election campaign.”
Liberal Democrat Leader Simon Werner (Pinkneys Green) said: “Council communications should be useful information.
“Information on how to become a foster parent and when your bins will be collected. These should not be fictitious accounts of the quality of advice. ”
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Senior Communications Member Cllr Ross McWilliams (Con: Cox Green) called the suggestion a “ridiculous idea” based on no evidence and was a “bad comment” to make.
He also said it was “sad” to see the integrity of communications teams questioned as they disseminated important information about public health, how to become a foster family and how to engage with the community. advice via panels and consultations.
The multi-stakeholder group also recommended that any alternate councilor from across the borough be able to fill a vacant position on a planning panel in the event of a member’s absence.
This means that a Maidenhead councilor can decide on a planning application in Windsor if called upon to replace him.
plenary council meeting
This was triggered after Windsor advisers were called in as last-minute replacements for a Maidenhead development management committee in August, which was called a “shame” but was unable to sit because they were not representatives of Maidenhead.
The supervisor specifies that this geographical restriction on substitute members presents an “area of weakness” for the board and an “increased risk” of conflicts of interest.
Opposition advisers feared that opening up planning commissions to non-local advisers could increase impartiality in decision-making and “wrestle” localism in determining planning demands that affect the local population.
Councilor John Baldwin
Cllr John Baldwin (Lib Dem: Belmont) said: “I have concluded that all of this is just an incentive by which they can lock in a conservative majority in both panels and under all circumstances.
“This intention is far more detrimental to impartiality than the current provisions.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Geoff Hill (TBF: Oldfield) said the amendment was “undemocratic”, while independent group leader Lynne Jones (Old Windsor) urged members to use only non-local councilors as substitutes. in case of emergency.
Councilor Andrew Johnson
But board chief Andrew Johnson (Con: Hurley & Walthams) said it was “disappointing” to hear it would be “misused” as it would give planning boards “flexibility” when needed, in especially during the pandemic, when some members need to self-isolate.
All councilors voted in favor of the gifts and hospitality amendment, while Liberal Democrats and Cllr Hill voted against the approved communications protocol.
The controversial planning amendment was approved by the ruling conservatives.