OWL Council Newcomer?

Meet OWL Kate Mitchell , a candidate for the Knowsley ward in May. Brought up in Maghull and now living in Ormskirk, she cares deeply about animal welfare and is an active member of a local resident group. She mentions her independence of political parties and would be responsive to local electors . She wants those who hold similar views and have similar values to vote for her .

23 thoughts on “OWL Council Newcomer?”

  1. Er, Our West Lancashire IS a political party. It’s registered with The Electoral Commission. An independent is someone with no political affiliation whatsoever and they stand for elections under the mantle of ‘Independent’ for that reason. You can’t be an independent if you’ve joined a political party.

      1. Well, it’s your website but it’s a bit misleading for the general public. Do you also refer to the Green Party as independent? You can rightly refer to County Cllr Greenall as independent though!

      2. It’s good of you to say so Adam, and I doubt the general public are misled by much that I write. Come to think of it I don’t refer to the Greens at all, are they still around? As for Paul Greenall, he’s, in his own words, “An Independent minded Brexitier, of the political right but with no political home”. Do the OWLs have a political home?

  2. The crucial point is whether a future Cllr Mitchell would be whipped or free to represent her residents. It seems clear that, on that measure, she is Independent.

    Cllr Yates is obviously irritated that sometimes he has to follow a party line with which he does not agree. That’s understandable.

    1. You seem quite obsessed about this party whip. I can honestly say that in my time as a councillor, I haven’t been whipped. I’ve been allowed to represent the views of residents. But then, the Labour Party does believe that policy should be formed at the local level. Is that why you left the Conservatives, because you didn’t like the whip?

  3. Nice one Adam! Despite his stated aversion to the ‘whip’ (!) I wonder whether localpoliticswatcher deployed that same whip to his Tory colleagues when they pushed through the Local Plan in 2013? or was he ‘independent’ then? The voting record gives us the truth. On representing the community, cracking letter from Noel Delaney in the Champ this week with a challenge to a member of the public who asks ‘what do Councillors do?’ If the he accepts the challenge, he will have great difficulty in keeping up with one of the most energetic Councillors who would leave behind most people 1/4 his age!

    1. The WLBC Planning Committee preamble states “Party Whips are not to be used by this Committee in respect of its functions concerning the determination of applications, approval of consents, the taking of enforcement action and the exercise of powers and duties with regard to highways, hedgerows, the preservation of trees and high hedge complaints. When considering any other matter which relates to a decision of the Cabinet or the performance of any member of the Cabinet, in accordance with Regulatory Committee Procedure 9, Members must declare the existence of any party whip, and the nature of it”. Were the Tory Cllrs of 2013 whipped to pass the Local Plan? Were they all like-minded to do that? And were the Labour opponents of that Local Plan whipped or simply like-minded to oppose it?

      1. I think the voting record of the Planning Committee shows that it’s not whipped. There are often differences of opinion across the committee, irrespective of political affiliation.

        As for the Local Plan, you can be assured that the Labour Group would declare any whip but, as mentioned above, I’ve yet to experience this. I’m sure it’s much more common at a parliamentary level but unless you’re trying to enforce an ideologically-driven policy through (such as the Conservative’s desire to outsource all council services to private, profit-making companies, as stated at last Full Council) then I don’t see why you would.

        Local policy should be evidence-based.

      2. The County pays special allowances for whips, majority party £4,483 and opposition £2,989. That’s local isn’t it? Why should someone be paid to whip elected members into making decisions for what you claim ought to be evidence based?

      3. As evidenced by the current conservative administration at LCC, they’re an unruly lot up in Preston. Maybe they have more need of being kept in line?

      4. Being kept in line, that’s an interesting description of political whipping. Is the current Tory administration the only party being paid from public funds for a whip? Or do both main parties benefit?

  4. Because the Planning Committee is quasi-judicial the Political Whip cannot be applied, thats why there is a standing agenda item at the beginning of each Planning Committee meeting to clarify as such. The voting record I refer to is when the Adopted Local Plan was agreed at Full Council where the Whip does apply and a recorded vote was requested by the Labour Group, then in opposition.

    1. Clear as mud? Surely every decision voted on and implemented by WLBC is ultimately an official and legal decision? Any decisions are then automatically the effect of quasi-judicial action? I need to lie down in a darkened room!

  5. “In view of the non-political nature of the issues before the Council’s Regulatory Committees, and in order to demonstrate transparency in the decision making process, it is best practice not to have Group Meetings on the Agendas” so says the Convention on Council Business.

    What do the Labour and Conservative groups do before planning meetings…

  6. Quasi-judicial status applies to those functions which deal with specific legal aspects such as Planning, Licensing etc. that have regulatory legislative frameworks within which they operate. Other Council meetings such as Full Council are not subject to such restrictions and that is why the Whip can be applied in one and not the other.

    The issue of Party politics and whether the Owls who on the one hand consider themselves as non-whipped independents and yet on the other promise heaven & earth to the electorate without the mechanism or numbers to vote anything through, is an interesting example.
    If they were by some fluke to outnumber the Tories on WLBC ( having said that, the way the Tories perform, it could happen I suppose) how would they vote anything through if they all decided differently? As William Wilberforce said” Party begats Party” or, in order to win votes over a political party, you have to form a political party and so eventually they would have to draw up some rules as to be able to achieve any discipline within the democratic decision making arena, i.e. some form of ‘whipping’ ? Surely their re-invented leader has thought this one through? Do they have policies? or is everything decided on the increasingly dubious method of consultation through Facebook? Or are they going to continue to try and operate by their current strategy of ‘Virtual Politics’ where they falsely flag up some imagined issue, kick up a fussaboutf it and when it doesn’t actually materialise, claim a resounding victory. Virtual Politics.

    1. Interesting essay John, and much to agree with, but you can’t seriously think being a local community based group is promising heaven and earth? What they are doing is getting the feel of how the public view “politics” that doesn’t help or reach the public. You ask about their policies but they tap into peoples grievances rather better than Tory or Labour appear to. One thing you do have to acknowledge, they have votes and seats. Ask yourself why?

  7. Being a local community based group is to be applauded and should be encouraged. What is happening with the Owls is that some members of that group who are largely politically inexperienced, do not necessarily realise that they are being dragged into a political arena, the promising Heaven & Earth comes from announcing budget figures, i.e. £1m to buy up houses and other such ‘promises’ when not even submitting a Budget at Full Council, that is fundamentally misleading to the public. I feel qualified to write about this having been down the same road of trying to operate outside of Party politics while engaging within an arena where Party politics were prevalent , when we established the Northern Parishes Independents. I was warned against it at the time from someone very experienced in politics, but had to learn for myself. The people I feel sorry for are the inexperienced members of the Owls who will be left high & dry when Cllr. Owens goes back to his Party once the Westley period of rule crashes and burns, which inevitably it will.

    Eventually the public will realise that the Owls are not actually delivering any substantial achievements and become disillusioned. Yes they have votes. Yes they have seats. But so do we.

    1. Well, you are right about community based groups being applauded and encouraged. But why is being “largely politically inexperienced” a matter of concern? They, OWLs, are not in the business of achieving budgets, so far as I can see they want influence on behalf of their electorate. You tried independence, seemingly unsuccessfully, but why should that stop others trying? Regardless of what Cllr Owens does and if you look at the circumstances of him leaving, then look at Cllr Greenall and the circumstances of his leaving, look at the Moon situation, why would Cllrs Owens and Greenall ever rejoin the Tory party? You refer to the Westley period of rule crashing and burning, well let me light the fire! He’s leading his party to oblivion, taking a bit too long, but it will arrive. As for the OWLs, the members, has it occurred to you that people WILL stand up and fight, as you saw in Aughton, after all your administration had faith in us? Just wait for a “Parrs Lane” cause in Ormskirk and see what OWLs might do.

  8. Being largely politically inexperienced becomes a problem when you start espousing remedies for complex issues such as the Article 4 Direction in relation to HMO’s (for Planning purposes, not Licensing) and start banding around proposed solutions which are legally fraught with danger to someone putting stuff up on Facebook/forums etc. Thats what I mean about entering the political arena. We achieved a lot as independents in the community in terms of obtaining grant funding etc. but we had no control over any budgetary matters above Parish Council level. If the Owls are attempting to influence budgets at WLBC/LCC then they are entering the political arena. The main point I make is that pressure groups are that and political parties are another thing altogether and the Owls try to be both at the same time while claiming not to be.

    1. Your points are well made. But, you started somewhere along the line where the OWLs are now. Don’t make the mistake of assuming it is necessary to be a “party” rather than an association of like minds. Not being a member of any party I can enjoy the collective successes of independents against big brothers! I also enjoy, for personal reasons, the failures of political bullies like Westley et al. The success of WLBC against developers is a huge victory given to one community, is a notable failure for Westley and his other four members there, but there are other communities badly needing WLBC support, Skelmersdale coming to mind. OWLs might become the council opposition, after all don’t mighty oaks grow from acorns?

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