Thursday, November 05, 2009

Just a minute ... Lisburn's Christmas Ice Rink

Lisburn City Council

Back in September, I spent an illuminating evening down at Lisburn's Island Civic Centre, as a member of the public witnessing two council committee meetings.

It was disappointing that the first of the two started half an hour earlier than advertised - something that the council staff have learnt from, and they now encourage attendees to let them know by phone in advance so they can be kept up to date with any changes to the arrangements. A positive step.

It was at this quarterly meeting of the Strategic Policy Committee that the possibility of erecting an ice rink in Lisburn city centre over Christmas to round off the 400th Anniversary celebrations was publicly mooted. I blogged about it at the time, questioning the likely cost, and the story was picked up by Good Morning Ulster (who interviewed the city's Mayor) and also the local Ulster Star paper.

While looking for something else, I noticed that the minutes from that meeting were now up on the LCC website. So how would they describe the brief verbal discussion of the ice rink proposal that the 400th Anniversary subcommittee with its delegated powers were discussing?

4.2 400 Anniversary Celebrations

Members had been furnished with, and noted the contents of, copies of reports of the meetings of the Sub-Committee held on 11 May and 6 July, 2009.

It doesn't warrant a mention.

Up to now, the minutes from the subcommittee - which meets in private and was delegated power to organise the celebratory events without recourse to the Strategic Policy Committee - have not been published. The good news is that last week, LCC's Assistant Director of Corporate Service did promise that

"Meetings of the sub committees are not open meetings however it is proposed that these minutes will now be placed on the Council's website."

So the details of what was being discussed and agreed will shortly be more widely available than the zero fact blurb in the SPC minutes.

On the matter of publishing the Voluntary Transition Committee minutes (a forum dealing with council business that will be affected by the 2011 Review of Public Administration, and a forum that will become increasingly powerful in the run up to becoming a statutory committee next year) "a decision has yet to be made", despite their earlier press release that boldly stated that they'd be available on the Council website!

Accountability and transparency inching forward in the right direction.

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