(above: Lib Dem University spokesperson James Hawketts at the public entrance to city hall).
Members of the public, who have a right to attend council and cabinet meetings to observe and ask questions, found themselves locked out of city hall recently while the Labour cabinet members took decisions behind closed doors.
It has come to light that the doors to City Hall had been locked at 5pm, despite supposedly publicly accessible meetings taking place after that time, effectively locking the public out of sessions they had every right to attend. Thanks to protestations from local Lib Dems, a review into the council’s procedures will take place.
However, the fact that this catastrophic failing of democratic principles was not duly considered before the locking time of 5pm emerged is testament to how disconnected and complacent this Labour-run council has become.
This City administration has become separated from the people who elected them and are unwilling to stand up to justified scrutiny. Members of the cabinet can rarely be found actually engaging with residents of the city with the council almost entirely ignoring public outcry over parking charges to Eaton Park.
When asked, the council failed even just to write to the Environment Agency over concerns about pollution in the Wensum. They voted against raising biodiversity (net gain) standards for big developers. They have been unable to address the 230 council houses remaining empty in Norwich while 3400 people are stuck on the waiting list.
A failure to unlock doors and allow the public into a meeting to which they have a right of attendance is just one failing in an ever-growing list showing, in stark detail, the apathy and inaction of this Labour council.
This is a Labour administration that may hold office, but refuses to serve in power for the betterment of our city and its residents. Instead, their practice is defined by inaction, avoidance of scrutiny and, it seems, hiding behind locked doors.