Cllr Jon Hubbard

Wiltshire Councillor for Melksham South

Serving the community across Melksham

Cllr Jon Hubbard

Wiltshire and Town Councillor for Melksham South

Working hard across the Melksham Community

Cllr Jon Hubbard with Lucy Gomes

Today Wiltshire Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee voted to overturn my call-in of the decision to close the Outdoor Education Centre’s in Braeside (Devizes) and Oxenwood (near Marlborough).

These centres provide vital and outstanding educational facilities in our communities and their closure is another knock for the already embattled young people across our county who are seeing service after service being scrapped.

Today’s meeting was all about how that decision was made. It was my contention that a decision that was made without any form of public consultation, without discussion with stakeholders or service users, and a decision that was made in a Cabinet meeting where the press and public were excluded and no papers were published in advance to anyone but the cabinet members themselves did not meet the standards of decision making outlined in the council’s constitution.

It was clear from the outset that the meeting was never going to go well when it started with the Cabinet Member for Finance objecting to the use of the work secret to describe a meeting that excluded the press and public and for which no papers were available in advance to anyone except cabinet members and a very select few others (which did not include the vast majority of elected Wiltshrie Councillors).

The, at times, fractious meeting demonstrated the complete intransigence of the Conservative administration who are clearly hell-bent on shutting these services at all costs and appear to be oblivious to the thoughts and wishes of the public who have made their desire to see the services remain clear.

Perhaps most sad though was the decision of the Labour Party to not even bother to turn up and participate in the debate. With two Conservative Councillors having been brave enough to actually vote against the administration, had Labour attended and had the Independent Chairman been brave enough to actually vote then we would have very nearly won the day.

In the event, the administration received a rubber stamp endorsing their decision exclude people from their decision-making process and rule the county from behind firmly shut and locked doors.

Shame on them.

The fight for these centres goes on and we will continue to explore for new ways to try and save them.

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Wiltshire Council Election May 2017

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