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Leader of Burntwood Town Council calls for party groups to be axed to prevent national policies impacting on local decision-making

Political groups at Burntwood Town Council should be disbanded to prevent national party lines impacting on local decision-making, according to the current Conservative leader.

Cllr Doug Pullen
Cllr Doug Pullen

Cllr Doug Pullen made his proposal ahead of the local elections in May.

The council’s leader said voting decisions were currently being made along party lines and not necessarily in respect of those of the residents being represented.

He has now written to his Conservative group calling for them to lay down political arms for the good of the town.

“If you look at any motion which has been opposed at Burntwood Town Council, you will see that the vote falls squarely along party lines.

“But the simple reality is that most of us share similar opinions, particularly in regard to local issues, and  differences only become apparent when discussing regional or national policies.

“This new approach may of course take some time to bed in, there will no doubt be times when we are still voting along party lines – but I hope that this kickstarts a conversation around the usefulness (or not) of political groups at the parish level.”

Cllr Doug Pullen’s email to Conservative members of Burntwood Town Council

Cllr Pullen told LichfieldLive that local residents expected their councillors to represent them rather than their parties.

“As a Conservative, I’m not particularly interested in ideologies,” he said. “I’m interested in what is pragmatic and what works.

“Although I’m sure some of my excellent Conservative colleagues might be shaking their heads in dismay at this idea, I think it is necessary to ensure a robust town council.

“While political groups are sometimes necessary to carry out the work of a council, this simply isn’t true at Burntwood Town Council.”

Principles, not party lines

Cllr Pullen said he hoped his idea to remove the party politics at a parish council level would be taken seriously by both Labour and Conservative colleagues.

“I think it’s time that we matured somewhat and that those who are elected as parish or town councillors feel able to vote in accordance with their own principles rather than along a party line,” he said.

“Of course, this will take two – or more – to tango, and I very much hope that Labour and any other parties elected would follow suit.”

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10 Comments

  1. Philip John

    11th February, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    YES Doug! Excellent idea.

  2. AnnS

    11th February, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    Mrm! Good luck with this.

  3. Christine Rapley

    11th February, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    I loathe the Tory government and most of their policies. But this idea is excellent. Really what the UK needs is proportional representation to help prevent exploitation. We are living through the most difficult and painful destruction of our country 95% caused by the Tories.

  4. John Griffin

    11th February, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    Long game being played here, against Wilcox and Fabbo maybe eventually. May elections loom large, may be a factor? Mmmmmmm

  5. Cllr Sue Woodward

    11th February, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    I hope this will be properly considered by those elected to BTC in May. In my time as a Burntwood Town Councillor, prior to 2015, it worked in a cooperative and consensual way. Since 2015, and particularly under the leadership of former Cllr Mosson, the politics became toxic at times. At one point, in confidential session, I said to the Conservatives that they could propose that black is white and all vote in favour but it wouldn’t make it so! I’ve got a lot of common ground with both Cllr Pullen and former Leader, Cllr Fisher – all in the best interests of Burntwood. Unfortunately, the tone set by former Cllr Mosson has persisted for some (one of whom I reported to the standards monitoring officer for personal abuse via an anonymous social media profile – and won). Let’s see – and let’s hope at least some of the Conservative Councillors in Burntwood join with me in calling for Lichfield District Council to invest in the town during the forthcoming Budget debates.

  6. Cllr Rob Birch

    11th February, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    Whilst I don’t doubt for a second that Cllr Pullen is honourable in his views and intentions, I can’t say that I am overly optimistic that his group will share his view. I only need to look back a short while to the Chasetown co-opt which saw the whole group, with the decent exception of Cllr Pullen, vote against the electorate and against an agreement they made with the Labour Group. That saw the highly effective Cllr Bacon take up what the voters had decided to be a Labour seat.

    It is a little late in the day to see their whole group have a dramatic change of heart. I could be being overly cynical but lets not forget that there is only one more Council meeting before the elections in May, would this new order continue afterwards?

    I have never had any issue with doing the right thing for the town, it is why I stood for election in the first place. The Labour Group’s views have always been reflective of the needs of our town and we will always put the town first in our decisions.

    Cllr Pullen is absolutely right, national politics is very different to local politics but the financial influence is always there. It is the party politics that results in bin tax, ungritted roads, endless potholes and countless other cuts to services directed by their national party. Invariably our suggestions to deal with some of these challenges locally have been ignored by the Tory Group, who spend hours and pounds organising events instead of solutions.

    Doing the right thing for our town will be easy for the Labour Group as its what we have been doing for some time. I for one am more than happy to work with a spirit of cooperation, but the lack of trust from the recent cooption will take some forgetting on my part.

    I expect time will tell.

  7. Steve

    11th February, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    I think that this would be a fantastic idea.

    When it came to election time, there would be a real interest in what each candidate stood for, rather than just voting along party lines.

    Imagine if Fab was judged on his record. I am sure he could rely on the votes of both of the constituents he has helped, in all of his years as an MP.

  8. Dave King

    12th February, 2019 at 10:18 am

    Political obsessions spoil most of BTC meetings. Meetings should not be a soap box for political obsessions.

  9. Steve Norman

    13th February, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    Of course it sounds good doesn’t it “No party politics in a Parish Council”. But what about district and County? How can it be okay for them and not a Town Council? The truth is there is a lot more that is normally agreed on at parish and even district level than is disagreed on – at least until the governments austerity agenda has forced so many cuts in neighbourhood services.

    When I was Leader of Burntwood Town Council after 1999 I introduced, with the support of my Labour colleagues, a Scrutiny Committee into the Council to be chaired by the Leader of the Opposition. Scrutiny Committees should not be whipped and if there is a Party whip it should be declared – this applies to district and county scrutiny meetings in Staffordshire.

    I like to think that Burntwood was unique amongst parish or town councils in having this “non-party” arrangement to avoid the us and them politics in the chamber. Unfortunately it later became just a Policy and Resources Committee.

    The truth is so called “Independents” – who are usually closet Conservatives or Conservatives who cannot get elected as Conservatives in the ward they are standing in – are just a law unto themselves. They can be anything to anyone because they, almost always, just want to represent themselves.

    The “no party declared” (Conservative) councillors on my first Parish Council used to hold Parish Council meetings in a farmer’s kitchen! Thank to Labour Party training I managed to move them out of this illegal setting and into our village hall – but I was accused by the Chairman of taking orders from Moscow!

    They hated it even more when at the next election I became the first Labour district councillor ever for my ward and was re-elected twice more before moving into Lichfield District. So I must have done something right and could only have achieved what I did for my residents in the ward (of five villages) with the support of party colleagues.

    An independent councillor has just one vote and if there is more than one on a council they get together to form their own political group and elect their Leader!

  10. LetsGiveItASop

    21st February, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Well that didnt last long, nice to see co-operation on budget… NOT

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