Welwyn Hatfield cabinet members slammed over public meetings no-show

PUBLISHED: 19:43 22 August 2008 | UPDATED: 22:00 26 October 2009

FRUSTRATED residents have told of their annoyance at leading councillors not turning up to public meetings. Welwyn Hatfield Council is holding a series of summer 'Focus on...' meetings to discuss its services. And, of the four which have already taken pl

FRUSTRATED residents have told of their annoyance at leading councillors not turning up to public meetings.

Welwyn Hatfield Council is holding a series of summer 'Focus on...' meetings to discuss its services.

And, of the four which have already taken place, just two had cabinet members present.

One meeting, focusing on the community, was held in the Terrace Suite in Campus West, WGC.

As it got under way, cabinet members were upstairs at their own meeting.

This finished 50 minutes before the end of the public meeting, giving members a chance to attend - but not one of them showed.

Bertie Everard of Fern Grove, WGC, who did attend, said: "I was frustrated.

"There ought to have been someone from the cabinet present.

"I do realise they had a council meeting, but they could've come after the meeting."

Former councillor Dennis Lewis, who was also in the audience, said: "In their Five Promises the council states 'We will listen to you' and 'We are accountable to you', yet at a public meeting called by the council there was not one of the decision makers there to listen and certainly no-one was accountable.

"All those cabinet members had to do was ascend one flight of stairs to join us," he said.

Council leader John Dean told the WHT: "The problem has been with the scheduling of meetings as it has been very difficult to tie in with our cabinet calendars as well. Normally cabinet members want to attend public meetings providing it fits in with their schedule.

"Unfortunately this year was a pretty heavy calendar of meetings and hopefully next year will be better."

A council spokeswoman added all councillors were invited to attend public meetings, however they were not obligated to go.

Topics discussed at the meetings so far include housing, neighbourhood centres, arts and heritage, leisure, care for the elderly and improving recycling.

Two more meetings are left. One, on community safety, takes place next Wednesday, September 3, the last, focusing on the borough council's budget, is on Tuesday, September 16. Both start at 7pm at Campus West.

* Do you think cabinet members should attend public meetings or is all this fuss about nothing?

Email us your views at whtimes@archant.co.uk

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