When the democratic system fails people, you can hardly blame them for losing hope.
A democratic system intends to give people a sense of choice and relative control over their lives and the outcomes they may face, and it helps them feel they are a part of something bigger.
This is one of the reasons people become involved in politics, because they want to play a small part in that system and to help others. But when the system doesn’t even make sense to elected representatives, it only distorts trust and accountability further.
This is what has happened recently, within the chambers of Folkestone and Hythe District Council.
In May, the residents of Folkestone and Hythe had their say on whose voices they wanted to represent them, and which policies they chose to support, thereby exercising their sense of control over what effects them at a local level – and in the process, electing new faces to the council along with returning ones. We are determined to uphold the trust they have put in us and ensure the council is accountable to the people of our district.
On Wednesday 26th June 2019, the planning permission for the controversial Princes Parade development in Hythe came under the scrutiny of the whole council. Despite the development being roundly rejected by a majority of our democratically-elected councillors, the council Cabinet decided to wave the plans through regardless.
This is a slap in the face for democracy.
I understand that constitutionally the Cabinet system at Folkestone & Hythe District Council is the ruling authority, but what’s the point of having 30 elected councillors debating, voting on vital issues, motions and resolutions, if it’s only going to be overridden by a small number of people? Surely there needs to be a more accountable and truly democratic way forward.
Otherwise we risk facing an uncertain future, where those residents who put their trust in us as elected councillors to fight their corner finally give up trying. Once you’ve broken democratic oversight, can it even be pieced back together?
My fellow Labour councillors and I will shine a light on these underhanded practices and continue to fight for the residents who put their trust in us.
Cllr Michelle Dorrell