Liberal Democrats call for open publication of the report of the People’s Commission

Calderdale Liberal Democrats have expressed dismay that the report of the Council’s People’s Commission into health and social care services is being kept under wraps until a Special Council meeting on Monday February 9th.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr Janet Battye said: “This has been a good piece of cross-party working and we’ve agreed on the findings and recommendations to the Council meeting, so I really don’t understand why the Conservative and Labour members of the Commission don’t seem to want it to be made available to the public at the same time as it’s sent to Councillors in advance of the Council meeting.”

“We’re all concerned about health and social care services, and the real worries about funding and whether there are enough services in the right place. The Commission examined these and has drawn what I think are some sensible well thought through conclusions and recommendations. I don’t think that there are any surprises in the report.”

“It seems to me to be sensible and helpful to the debate at the Special Committee and Council meeting that our colleagues in the Health Service and local people have an opportunity to read through the report so that they know what we’re thinking.”

“There is no confidential or commercially sensitive information in the report, so I fail to understand why people from other political parties don’t want the public to be able to see and read the report until after the Council meeting. I call on them to change their minds in the public interest”

Councillor James Baker Deputy Group leader said “It’s called the People’s Commission but Conservative and Labour Councillors don’t want the people to see it until after Councillors have had early access to the report and a chance to debated it themselves. Other parties talk the talk about openness and transparency, but they don’t walk the walk.”

6 thoughts on “Liberal Democrats call for open publication of the report of the People’s Commission

  1. John Hardy says:

    This is totally out of order. Had Councillor Battye being able to be present for the whole meeting – Councillor Greenwood was present – she would know that the decision to not publish before the meeting was in the best interests of the People’s Commission.

    It is not playing Party Politics and I am disappointed that the wishes of those present in the discussion have been let down by the Liberal Democrats

    • jamesbaker says:

      Our position is that it’s totally out of order not to publish the report publicly at the same time it is sent out to Councillors. The decision to embargo the report was made after the allocated end time of the meeting, and therefore after our Group leader needed to leave to attend another meeting. We have been seeking to arrange an urgent leaders meeting to try and get this report published and made our position on this entirely clear.

      How can it be in the interest of the people to prevent them seeing a report of a ‘people’s commission’? It should be published publicly at the same time it is distributed to Councillors.

      • onthe contrary says:

        On the contrary James Baker, the report was only in draft form and was circulated to the members of the commission in order to garner and assemble comments and alterations as they see needed to present a true and complete report. The meeting was scheduled to last until 2 o’clock, Janet Battye left at 1 o’clock therefore it was a complete fabrication (a.k.a. lie) on your part to imply that the decision was taken after ‘the allocated end time’. Perhaps you might have the courage to issue a rebuttal of your previous statement.

        • jamesbaker says:

          The report is now being distributed to Councillors and
          we are calling for it to be distributed to the press and the public at the same time.

          Why is that openness and transparency so difficult? We want members of the public to be able to read it so they can speak to their representatives about it before the Council meeting about it.

          Janet informed me this wasn’t discussed at all whilst she was present. She tells me it was decided after the allocated end time of the meeting , you tell me she left early. Why didn’t anyone just check we that was ok with her?

          Why now the reluctance to publish it in public at the same time it’s sent to Councillors?

  2. James Baker says:

    Can I just point out the People’s Commission report is now a report listed under the agenda item of a public meeting. As such it is subject to the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985. Have a read of the act, in it you will discover it is a legal requirement for the Council to make available all non-exempt reports (and this report isn’t exempted under Sec 12 of the Local Government Act 1972) to the public three days before the public meeting. If this isn’t done then the item can’t be discussed at a public Council meeting. It’s also an offense to prevent a member of the public having access to such a document.

    If the People’s Commission made a decision not to publish it before the meeting then I suspect they did so in ignorance of this Act. So call it ‘bang out of order’ to ask for it to be published if you like, but it’s an offense if people are not allowed access to it before the meeting.

    • Cllr Janet Battye says:

      I stand by what I said in the Press Release and I would add that I left the meeting at its agreed end time. During the meeting, we had made a final agreement about the recommendations but nothing was said about anything else being discussed – so this was done AFTER the end of the meeting. I didn’t know that publication of the report (or not) was going to be discussed and as soon as I was notified about it (the following morning), I voiced my opposition to it but I have been told that I am the only person to speak against it. My fellow LibDem Cllr tells me that she neither supported it nor opposed it in the meeting.

      There is nothing confidential nor commercially sensitive in the report so I can see no reason for with-holding it – rather the opposite. The Council meeting as a Committee meeting on Monday Feb 9th is an opportunity for members of the public to attend and, possibly, speak. But it appears that they will not be allowed to see/know the substance of the report and its recommendations.

      I call on the Conservatives and Labour to change their mind about this – we want an Open and Transparent Council

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