Privacy and ‘missing members’ launches Parish Council Steering Group

The Sutton Coldfield Parish Council Steering Group held its inaugural meeting yesterday, 13th October, and got off to a flier by giving a resounding slap in the face to transparency.

royal town of sutton coldfield sign

The group agreed, and rumours have it unanimously, that all future meetings will continue to be held in private. An ironic decision considering some of those present were happy to verbalise there distain when a previous group looking at the town council did the same.

While the publication of minutes and agendas is welcome – and I believe part of the document agreed at Council in September rather than a decision made by the group – this is clearly not the same as being able to report from the meetings directly.

It is important to observe those nuances and interactions that are not recorded in the minutes first hand. The non-verbal as well as the verbal. To be able to make objective observations of the members and their contributions; the force with which they argue important points. If the Parish / Town Council is to be as open and transparent as everyone wishes would this not be a good time for the steering group to set that precedent? After all, what is there to hide?

With regard to the group’s agendas these are listed on the Birmingham City Council website under committees – – begging the question, is the steering group a BCC committee and, if so, is it not obliged to sit in public?

What we do know about the group’s first meeting was that it was light of a couple of members. Two organisations clearly recorded in council documents as being part of the steering group hadn’t actually agreed. Embarrassing.

This has resulted in the group consisting of three members of the Sutton Coldfield Town Council Referendum Group and nine BCC councillors. Getting to sound more like a BCC committee by the minute.

When the group transitions over to the interim Parish Council in March the meetings will be held in public and I fail to see any good reason why that process cannot start now. After all, the public that the doors are being closed upon are the same public that signed the petition and voted in the ballot to bring the Parish Council into existence and have a right to observe its creation through the steering group.

9 Responses

  1. Paul Long says:

    What was really positive at the meeting was the way in which everyone of all political and non-political backgrounds worked really positively together and a date for an away day has already been agreed.

  2. Andy says:

    Why does this not surprise me.

  3. Richard says:

    A disgraceful state of affairs. I wonder if any members of the Group will do residents the courtesy of explaining why it is necessary to hold this meetings in private. Somehow I doubt it.

    I’m especially disappointed that the non-councillor members of the group acquiesced in the decision.

  4. Nigel says:

    There’s probably little doubt that some of the members of this group read these pages so perhaps one or more may like to step forward and explain their decision here.

  5. albert says:

    I think this is absolutely disgusting. When we were canvasing to form STC we were all told that it was non-political and if we UKIP supporters were not to tell any-one. The Conservatives were totally against it and did not attend promotional activities. It now turns out that all these hypocritical Conservative councillors are running the steering committee behind closed doors and the founding members have been side-lined.. HOW DID THEY GET AWAY IT. When Sutton Residents voted overwhelming for independence I am sure they did not vote for a cowardly branch of Birmingham City Council.

  6. Stuart Kelly says:

    Albert, Sutton residents did not vote ‘overwhelmingly’.

    You seem surprised that the pigs have their noses in the trough so soon?

    I would welcome it being a non-political organisation, however, that would be pie in the sky.

  7. peter says:

    Ha! UKIP supporters instructed not to tell anyone – well how else could they sneak in through the back door?

  8. albert says:

    Peter – we didn’t tell anyone we were UKIP because we knew we would come up against mindless idiots like you. Cant you see, we were more committed to the cause rather than the party.

  9. peter says:

    Ah, I see Albert, so rather than engage with UKIP sceptics you prefered to keep quiet about your party politics, fair enough. ‘Mindless idiots’, what a quaint turn of phrase – keeping quiet was probably the right choice.