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To: South Tyneside Council

Return Democracy to South Tyneside

Return Democracy to South Tyneside

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We want South Tynside Council to start holding virtual Borough Council meetings by November 2020. These meetings should be live streamed, recorded and published on YouTube for the public to view. All other council meetings including Cabinet and Committee meetings should be recorded and published on YouTube for the public to view not just live streamed.

Why is this important?

The emergency legislation that allowed Councils to suspend holding meetings during the Covid-19 pandemic also enabled meetings to be held virtually to allow democracy to continue. Almost all councils are now holding virtual Full Council meetings. This enables all elected Councillors to represent the views of residents and for democracy to continue.

South Tyneside Council is a notable exception. The last meeting of South Tyneside Borough Council was held in February 2020. There are currently no plans in place to hold a Borough Council meeting before February 2021 by which time the majority of those elected to represent the people of South Tyneside will have been silenced for a year.

As Councillors for Beacon and Bents Ward we have repeatedly asked why we are the only Council that are not holding these meetings. Responses received to these requests have included we aren't able to organise a virtual meeting of this size, it would be too difficult for officers who wouldn't be able to see every Councillor on screen at the same time and some Councillors are not IT literate enough to participate in virtual meetings.

These are not reasons they are excuses. Councils far larger than South Tyneside have been holding virtual meetings since six weeks after lockdown began; the government have held virtual meetings with hundreds of MPs taking part; and a trade union recently held a virtual conference in which over 700 delegates took part.

We have also requested that all virtual meetings that are held and live streamed are recorded and published on YouTube so people can watch them when they finish work. We have been told this is too difficult to do but other Councils have done this for months.

There is no legitimate reason why South Tyneside Council cannot hold Borough Council meetings and why they cannot record and publish all meetings.

As Councillors for Beacon and Bents Ward we have been contacted by residents from our own Ward and from others who want to know why South Tyneside Council is trying to stifle democracy.

We have been asked why we voted to introduce local restrictions. But the truth is that we, and the majority of Councillors across the Borough, have had no say in this decision.

We are being asked about plans for the future, for reviving our town centre, and for rebuilding our economy. Again we have to say that we are being prevented from raising questions about these and other important issues because Borough Council is not meeting.

The residents of South Tyneside deserve better. They deserve to be represented. They deserve to have their voices heard. And they deserve to see democracy return to our Borough.

The Chief Executive has left and can only be replaced by Borough Council. Officers have been left without leadership and residents without a voice.

This is not about Party politics. It's about doing the right thing, returning democracy to our Borough and working together to create a better future when the pandemic finally ends.

Councillor Angela Hamilton (Labour Party)
Councillor David Francis (Green Party)

South Tyneside, UK

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Reasons for signing

  • I’ve signed because I believe the people of South Tyneside deserve the same level of representation that other local councils are providing up and down the country.
  • I care about the people not only in South Tyneside but Great Britain and all those around the world who are being fed rubbish by our government. We have a right to be heard and make choices and deserve to know what decisions are being made which concern our towns, livelihood and our future. Stop treating us like fools and give us our freedom back - SOS
  • Transparency

Updates

2020-10-10 18:23:03 +0100

100 signatures reached

2020-10-10 17:33:51 +0100

50 signatures reached

2020-10-10 17:05:15 +0100

25 signatures reached

2020-10-10 16:45:18 +0100

10 signatures reached