Reporting Person – Corporate Leadership Team
At its meeting on 8 April 2021, the Council referred the following Notice of Motion to the Executive.
Councillor M Ali
“The report on Independent Directors of Subsidiaries (EXE21-010), discussed at the meeting of the Executive on 14 January 2021, stipulates that “Applicants will not qualify for the role of Independent Directors if they are politically active, either Party Political or in an active Protest Group or are conflicted by the nature of their employment or other activity.”
Under a free and functioning democracy, the term “Protest Group” is an egregious definition for residents of Woking who may not agree with the actions and decisions of Woking Borough Council. We should not discriminate against those who take an active interest in local matters merely because they are openly critical of the council.
Similarly, the questionnaire for applying for the council’s Residents’ Panel includes a “Satisfaction Survey” in which the resident has to present their view of the council, including if they agree with statements such as “I trust” WBC, or “ I support WBC to take the appropriate actions today that will benefit my area in the future”. Residents who disagree with these statements may be discouraged from applying as they may think that it will negatively impact their application, and thus contribute to a less diverse Residents Panel. Furthermore, whether or not the resident agrees with these statements should have no bearing on their suitability for the panel. Thus, the council
I. Resolves that the view of any resident regarding planning policies or other council matters should not be used against them as criteria in determining their eligibility to positions within the council, including but not limited to directorships, resident panels and other bodies.
II. Moves to delete the term ‘protest groups’ from the criteria and does not use it within WBC to define any residents.
III. Will remove the requirement of filling out a “Satisfaction Survey” in an application to the Residents’ Panel.”
Councillor Aziz spoke in support of the Motion on behalf of Councillor Ali. The Executive noted the good response to the 10,000 Satisfaction Survey’s which had been sent to residents. The Portfolio Holder, Councillor Ashall, advised that a Satisfaction Survey was no longer a requirement when applying to the Residents’ Panel so iii) of the Motion was inaccurate. Regarding ii) of the Motion, the Executive was supportive of reviewing the term ‘protest groups’ ahead of the next round of appointments.
The Executive was not supportive of Cllr Ali’s Motion and agreed an amended Motion to read as follows:
Thus, the Council:
i) resolves that the view of any resident regarding planning policies or other Council matters should not be used against them as criteria in determining their eligibility to positions within the Council including, but not limited to, directorships, resident panels and other bodies; and
ii) undertakes to review all criteria and terms used ahead of the next round of appointments.”
RECOMMENDED to Council
That the Motion, as amended by the Executive, be supported.