The following communique was issued on Friday, May 1, 2020 by the South Hams District Council Opposition Group made up of Independent, Green Party and Liberal Democrat Councillors.
“It was just one week ago that the Tory-led South Hams District Council adopted a series of resolutions that effectively halted the democratic process by cancelling meetings, shutting down the Overview and Scrutiny process and disallowing questions and motions from Councillors.
Due to the public outcry that ensued, Councillor Judy Pearce, Leader of the South Hams District Council, has now announced a schedule of remote meetings – including one for Overview and Scrutiny – that will be open to the public remotely and will run through to the end of July.
Unfortunately, the Council has still not revised the new provision that prevents Councillors from asking questions and putting proposals onto the agendas of remote meetings.
SHDC Opposition Group, which includes Independent, Green Party and Liberal Democrat Councillors, has worked together on these challenges and is concerned that democracy is not something that works in half measures. The positive changes that have now taken place are encouraging, but we will be hard pressed to applaud them until Councillor Pearce gives back to the Councillors their right to participate fully in the various Council meetings.
South Hams makes a point of stating that its constitution has operating governance that is efficient, transparent and accountable. If Councillor Pearce takes those words seriously, she will allow a more fully democratic – not partially democratic – process to reign.”