Poplar trees decision unsettling

SIR – I had never been to a meeting of the cabinet of Welwyn Hatfield Council, let alone asked a question: it was a surreal and unsettling experience. Fellow citizens of the borough might be interested in how such meetings are conducted. The cabinet

SIR - I had never been to a meeting of the cabinet of Welwyn Hatfield Council, let alone asked a question: it was a surreal and unsettling experience. Fellow citizens of the borough might be interested in how such meetings are conducted.

The cabinet sat at tables arranged around three sides of a square. The eight of us who had dared to ask questions of the cabinet sat opposite the leader on the fourth side - no tables, just a row of chairs. We sat like a line of naughty school kids awaiting the headmaster's displeasure.

The agenda item duly came up. One by one the cabinet supported. During this display the deputy headmaster berated us kids that unlike him we had to bear no responsibility. The headmaster seemed to take great joy in berating any colleagues of different political persuasions. We came to question time.

We presented our earlier tabled questions. Replies were delivered in a bored monotone from scripts prepared by officials. In most replies the questions were not adequately addressed and in some cases not at all. The questioners had no right of reply. So like naughty kids we just had to take our medicine. There was no debate with the public, the other councillors present or indeed between members of the cabinet. That was it - motion passed nem con. What strange democracy.


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The item was the fate of the Stanborough Lombardy poplars - the signature trees of WGC - an important decision for which consultation had belatedly been promised. Was the correct procedure followed? If so then heaven help democracy in WHBC. If not then some of our responsible cabinet members will have to be held responsible.

We left the Campus suitably admonished, taking care not to trip over paving slabs, trying to avoid falling trees and taking care crossing the road lest any of our more responsible cabinet members had to take the rap.

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Certainly on that day "putting people first" - the WHBC strapline - seemed only to apply to members of the cabinet. There had been no consultation and debate.

Dr Malcolm Day, Handside Lane, WGC.

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