Local councillors have been prevented from expressing an opinion on behalf of their constituents by instructions from the council regarding issues of ‘prejudicial interests’. The councillors have been told they must voice no open support or objection to the proposal prior to the application hearing by Lancashire County Council in March. They are prohibited from being in a decision-making room discussing the matter. If they do express any opposition they are banned from speaking or voting at the application meeting. At a public meeting,called by the council to listen to public concerns regarding gas storage there was a mass exodus of councillors before any vote for or against was taken.
To make the situation even more farcical Lancashire County Council have advised that following a Court of Appeal ruling in North Yorkshire that any councillor living within a three mile radius of the scheme will be unable to vote on the issue. This effectively bars over thirty of the council - and all the labour members - from any say in the final decision.
Councillors are not speaking out on the issue- despite clear opposition from local residents-for fear of being unable to vote in March. This may be wasted caution if indeed the three-mile ruling is effective and legally binding. The Advisory Standards Board was approached regarding the ruling and asked how local councillors were expected to represent the electorate when they were unable to speak out for fear of losing their right to vote. They stated in no uncertain terms that once elected the councillors no longer represented the people of that ward but were representatives of the council. So much for our votes,so much for democracy.
Watch this space for more information of council gagging and corruption in local politics.