A MOVE by Ledbury Town council to produce a procedure for proper consideration of issues before they are released to the public has met with criticism.

The change to working methods was proposed by Coun Don McAll following an article in the Ledbury Reporter on moving the Charter Market from the High Street to Saint Katherine’s car park.

Coun McAll said the article appeared when the matter was only on a discussion paper yet to be presented to full council for consideration.

His proposal to establish a working party of staff and councillors to define a procedure to support proper internal analysis of things before they were deemed fit for public consumption was passed by the council on January 25.

Coun McAll said he fully recognised the importance of transparency of matters. However, it seemed that, all too often, the council was unable to give robust consideration to essential issues, consider options intelligently and comprehensively, debate fully, and take all views into account internally before exposing matters in an immature state to public scrutiny.

Councillors Tony Bradford and Ewen Sinclair criticised the proposal saying the public have a right to know what the council is doing.

Coun Bradford said “Coun McAll’s motion will close down our transparency.”

Coun Sinclair also criticised the move to produce a procedure for proper consideration of issues before they are released to the public. He said: “It is my belief it is a clear attempt to set up committees which are not minuted in order to make decisions around matters where people have no awareness of what is being discussed.”

Coun Bradford said: “As a councillor, you have to be well informed. You cannot assume that you represent the interest of all your electors without consulting them.”

Coun McAll said: “Unfortunately, the reaction of Cllrs Bradford and Sinclair has fundamentally misrepresented the motion I raised, which was to consider a means of signalling to the public the content of a draft document should not, to any extent, be regarded as council policy. I have witnessed the excellent detailed work by various groups in the early explorations of issues.

"Rightly, they consider all aspects and will often table options that may not survive downstream scrutiny. It would be wrong to stifle these early endeavours, but any documentation produced by work groups should not be regarded as the council's view until it has been considered and formally approved.

“The motion I tabled seeks to improve intelligent consideration of matters by making it explicit to the public the council is still considering the details and that no decision has been made at the point of release.

“There is nothing to prevent public access to any documents or to 'hide' publicly accessible records of meetings.”