I attended a meeting of the Constitution & Ethics Committee today. On Zoom. It worked perfectly satisfactorily from a process point of view. All members of the committee were visible, the public had access and a debate was possible. All good so far.
Problem is the Committee made decisions about changing existing practice in the absence of any evidence that either the the existing practice is not working or that the proposed new practice would be better. As far as I’m concerned you don’t change what you’re doing unless you can change to something better. As they say ‘if it’s not broke don’t fix it’
Amongst other items it was recommended that the committee agree to abolish the Cambridge Joint Area Committee (CJAC). The public papers to justify this move gave two reasons:
Reason number 1 doesn’t hold water. Cambridge is manifestly different to the other constituent districts in Cambridge so it would seem to be sensible that would be treated differently. And reason number 2 is a non-reason. The simple existence of an alternative is no reason on it’s own for change if there is no advantage to be gained. No analysis of the proposal versus the status quo was given so how could non Cambridge City members of the committee make an informed decision about it?
There was a second recommendation to withdraw from the Cambridge & Fringes Joint Development Control Commitee. Again two reasons were give to justify this change.
Reason number 1 is another way of saying ‘because it’s different we must change it’ without acknowledging that there may (there are) perfectly good reasons for the difference. And reason number 2 is a rerun of the reason number 1 for the CJAC abolition. And again there was no analysis of the the proposal versus the status quo.
I argued for a deferment to enable some consultation and a better response to the over 30 public comments submitted to the meeting and because, of course, we’ve got bigger issues to worry about (Covid-19). No use. The Tories want to do it so their block vote comes out so in defiance of the logic that if you’ve got no evidence you can’t make a decision both recommendations were carried 5-3 with Lib Dems and Labour voting against.