Liberal Democrat councillors from across Cambridgeshire spoke out in opposition to the Conservative County Council plans to scrap CJAC (Cambridge Joint Area Committee), a highly-valued transport committee that brings together county and city councillors.
Liberal Democrat councillors from across Cambridgeshire spoke out in opposition to the Conservative County Council plans to scrap CJAC (Cambridge Joint Area Committee), a transport committee that brings together county and city councillors.
Despite a strong defence of CJAC from Lib Dem County Councillor Amanda Taylor, the County's Constitution and Ethics Committee yesterday voted in favour of scrapping the committee. You can watch Cllr Amanda Taylor's speech to the Constitution and Ethics Committee here: https://twitter.com/CambridgeLDs/status/1253362151445729281.
Cllr Taylor spoke passionately of the many positive impacts CJAC has had, and commented that removing it would create a "democratic deficit". She also criticised the County Council for taking this step during a time of crisis. Thirty-nine people had said they wanted to exercise their public speaking rights in this debate - but due to the Coronavirus outbreak this was not possible.
Speaking during yesterday's Constitution and Ethics Committee meeting, Cllr Taylor said: "You have seen the 39 representations about the changes to CJAC. I have had over 20 emails from my own constituents. It shows just how much Cambridge people value the committee — it gives them a forum where they can have their say on matters that directly affect them, and where they can see their local councillors taking decisions.
"This is the wrong move not only because the committee is valued but because we are reducing local democracy, making our decisions less well informed.
"And unlike other parts of the county, we have no town or parish councils so we will have a democratic deficit if this goes ahead.
"The report doesn’t explain how Cambridge will be better without CJAC. Nor does it say how any other district will be.
"This is not only the wrong move, but the wrong time. We are in a national crisis, in lockdown, with people dealing with all sorts of difficult circumstances. This meeting is taking place virtually, and people are not allowed to exercise normal speaking rights.
"As so many have pointed out, it’s underhand and not fair process — an affront to both ethics and democracy.
"I do not think we should be damaging local democracy and transparency by removing CJAC or pulling out of JDCC. There is no right time to do this — but it is not now."
Leader of the Liberal Democrat County Council Group, Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, added: "To choose to push this decision through at a time when few people are able to attend to protest is an outrage.
“Residents are always affected by and hugely interested in issues like residents’ parking that are considered by CJAC. It is an important forum for Cambridge residents to have their concerns heard."
"The Tories' efforts to force their views on the population of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire from outside seem to know no limits.”
County Councillor for Chesterton, Ian Manning, said: "Liberal Democrats proposed creating this committee to push power down to the lowest level, and absolutely oppose removing it from residents.”