For decades Desborough Town Council provided a forum for local people to raise issues of concern in the community.
The item on each Town Council agenda ‘Representations from Members of the Public’ gave residents, or groups of residents, the opportunity to speak on any issue they wanted to raise. A true example of Democracy in action.
Reporters from the Evening Telegraph and the Herald & Post always looked forward to this item on the agenda as it provided an opportunity to pick up local stories and, sometimes, focus on controversial issues.
Councillors welcomed it as an opportunity to listen to local residents. It ensured that accountability, transparency and free speech were at the heart of local government.
Now the public are told that they can only raise issues that are on the Agenda. Free speech is restricted and democracy is diminished. No wonder members of the public are interrupting and heckling to get their voice heard at meetings.
The new rules are a disgrace and an affront to our democratic values.