Should we have political parties at council?

By: Steve Morris

Straight from city council
A personal view,
by Councillor Steve Morris

I was honoured this week when a young Labour supporter suggested they should find a candidate to stand against me at the next election. I suggested they consider his mother; such good-natured banter is one of the joys of this job. You need to be able to maintain a sense of humour in the council chamber but more importantly, forgive quickly.

When you have 11 people of different beliefs and backgrounds charged with running the city, you need to be able to form alliances issue by issue. It’s not uncommon for two colleagues to passionately argue against each other on one issue and then argue alongside each other on the next, and that’s the way it should be. Councillors should approach debate with an open mind – but not an empty one!

The drawback of having an independent mayor and councillors is that the decisions we make aren’t always consistent and sometimes contradictory. Take the new Harrington Street carpark. This was to be seven storeys tall; a slim majority voted to increase it to nine storeys then a councillor (wisely) changed sides and it was back down to seven. Now a majority have voted to increase car parking elsewhere under the new council building.

A benefit of having organised parties involved is that you would get a robust candidate selection process. Unsuitable ones are weeded out before they stand and a clear vision set. These parties need not be aligned with those in central government, but at least they would provide voters with clear choices about the direction the city should take. What do you think?