Creating a More Open, Transparent and Inclusive Council
Labour believes that a council should belong to local residents. That means a council that’s open about its decisions, is accessible and most importantly is accountable to residents. However, too often over the last twelve years Dartford Council hasn’t felt like that at all.
The way Dartford Council operates needs to change. The way it communicates with residents also needs to change. Dartford remains one of the few councils in the country that refuses to use social media. In 2015, there is simply no excuse not to engage with residents in this way.
The council needs to involve people more in the decisions it makes. That’s why Labour will transform the relationship between the council and residents.
Where residents feel that the council is out of touch with them, we’ll introduce more involvement. Where residents feel that they cannot easily hold the council to account, we’ll introduce more accountability. And where residents feel that the decisions of the council are not clear enough, we’ll introduce more openness. It’s inexcusable that many decisions of Dartford Council are not currently subject to a vote. Residents should be able to see how the councillors they elected represent them in the council chamber. Labour will bring openness and transparency to the council.
Residents tell us that one thing that really frustrates them is when they are passed from pillar to post between Dartford Council and Kent County Council trying to get an issue sorted. That’s why Labour will make more effective working between Dartford Borough Council and Kent County Council a key priority. Labour believes that if a resident raises an issue with the council, they should expect the council to take ownership – even if that means working with other authorities to get a resolution. Residents should never be expected to accept “It’s not our job” as a response to their questions.
A Labour Council Will…
Improve communication between the council and residents
We’ll use online tools and social media to develop a truly open, two-way dialogue.
ahead of key decisions such as setting the budget.
Take the council directly to residents
by running road shows around the borough, giving residents access to Cabinet Members and key officers
Give the public the chance to hold the council to account
by enabling residents to submit questions to council meetings.
Bring greater clarity, publicity and accountability
to the work of the council including a pledge to hold recorded votes on all significant decisions. We’ll also consult on a proposal to film and to live stream council meetings.
End the ‘it’s not our job’ culture at the civic centre
by working closer with Kent County Council on issues that affect Dartford residents.
Bringing Greater Transparency to Council Spending
It’s important that residents are able to see what their council tax is being spent on. But over the last twelve years, the Conservative’s spending plans have been needlessly opaque. Not all residents want to wade through the annual budget to find out what’s going on. At present, it’s simply not clear enough how the council spends your money.
Labour believes that financial responsibly and transparency on spending should go hand in hand. A Labour Council in Dartford will be committed to being open with residents on how money is spent and how all council plans are being funded. We’ll also make sure that we are spending money on the right things – any spending that is not supporting our council plan needs to be challenged. There will be no wasteful spending under Labour.
And we’ll be clear about your council tax – if your bill is going up due an increase from another authority – as it has done in Dartford in recent years - we won’t waste valuable council resources on trying to convince you that your bill has actually been frozen instead. Residents have a right to expect their Council is straight with them about council tax.