When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
8:50am Thursday 17th May 2012 in Letters
Sir – Andrew Ffrench’s profile of Jean Fooks repeated her party’s election campaign claim that “the Lib Dem group would campaign for area assemblies to be created, complete with planning powers, to shift power to a neighbourhood level”.
However, this idea — which I approve of — is frankly contradicted by her and her party’s actions in the council chamber.
The old area committee system would require about £250,000 per year to restore, but in this year’s city council budget debate, the Lib Dems did not support the (Greens’) budget amendment to make that funding available. Instead, the Lib Dems proposed just £21,000 per year until 2016 for area assemblies, a sum which is insufficient.
In any case, the chances of opposition parties effecting any change at all in the council are rapidly vanishing, since Ms Fooks and her fellow Lib Dem councillors voted with the Labour Party in December 2010 for sweeping changes to the city constitution in which practically all powers, including the power to delegate powers to individual councillors (such as the bizarre “one-member committees”), will be vested in a “strong leader” — the leader of the Labour group. These new powers began on May 6. Readers can view key moments from that debate, including the final vote, at http://tinyurl.com/OxfordStrongLeader; the complete video is on the city council website.
John Coleman, Oxford