Gagging row update – first as the London media reports developments (see also our previous coverage, link here is just to the last example):
As a councillor you would surely expect your role to be to listen to your residents and be able to speak and vote at meetings about the issues affecting them.
Not so City of London councillors who just happen to live in the Barbican flats – one of the few places it’s actually possible to live in the City.
Incredibly they’ve been told repeatedly they can’t speak on issues affecting people living there because it’s a conflict of interest.
It’s just one of numerous ways the City authority operates differently from almost every other council in the land, but the councillors – or deputies as they are known in the City – have had enough and are demanding a blanket ruling allowing them to vote on issues affecting their community.
Fourteen of the 16 councillors representing the Barbican wards actually live there, meaning they have to ask for special dispensations to vote or speak on residential issues.
But now the corporation has decided to look at the way it deals with requests to speak and the standards’ committee is looking at forms councillors can fill in to ensure they do not fall foul of laws regulating local government.
Last December Deputy Mooney commenting on the controversial issue saying the council was far too tough on the matter. He said the council had a “zealous interpretation of the rules of the Localism Act, a zeal which would make even Genghis Khan flinch”.
He told the Court of Common Council that: “Unless we are literally and physically lining our pockets or handbags we know when we should not speak. We need a common sense approach.”
But at Friday’s (September 6) standards committee the City there were demands for change.
Solicitor and comptroller, Michael Cogher, said it was important to ensure that in every case “we have made a reasonable inquiry”.
Deputy Barbara Newman (Aldersgate) added “None of us is raising matters specific to us,” and deputy Henry Colthurst said: “My view is to turn around the culture.”
He added: “I think it is fundamentally wrong not to allow elected representatives to speak on issues.”
He said the committees which are most likely to present problems are the Barbican residents committee, licensing, planning and markets committees.
Cllr Colthurst asked the corporation if it couldn’t give people blanket dispensations for the whole of their four-year term.
But earlier in the week four out of five councillors had their requests for dispensations turned down, including Barbican resident Mark Bostock, who plans to raise the issue at the Court of Common Council.
Councillors said they had “common sense” to know when they needed to check the rules.
Caroline Addy, the deputy chair of the standards committee said there was no intention to ban councillors from speaking or voting, but to abide by the Localism Act and avoid councillors falling foul of it.
City of London councillors: ‘Let us speak on the issues that matter to our community’. They are fed up being barred from discussing things that affect the areas where they live by Julia Gregory, My London News, 11 September 2019. The page is archived here: https://web.archive.org/web/20190912004422/https://www.mylondon.news/news/zone-1-news/council-city-of-london-democracy-16901396
And secondly a gagging row update in far greater detail from Graeme Harrower:
Standards Committee meets because of the residents’ petition, and…. IGNORES it!
From Cllr Graeme Harrower (member for the business ward of Bassishaw), supporter of GLE resident Cllr Sue Pearson, residents’ rights and Standards Committee reform.
Concern over standards in the City Corporation is increasing as some members of the Standards Committee devise increasingly bizarre excuses to resist the erosion of its power over residential councillors.
For example, in the Dispensations Sub-Committee meeting on 4 June, a “co-opted” (meaning unelected) member rejected the notion that residential councillors should be trusted to exercise their judgment, because in future the “wrong sort of person might join the Corporation”. Since the only way a person can join the Corporation as a member is to be elected, the concern must be that City residents might in future elect the “wrong sort of person”. The residents are therefore being told that not only are they “confused” (as the Standards Chair called them in response to the petition), but that they must also be protected from the consequences of their voting decisions.
The Standards Committee itself prefers to decide, through less than a handful of its own members, when resident councillors can speak and vote on matters which affect them and their constituents equally, but the answer – when it comes to voting, which is more important – is usually “no”. So decisions affecting residents may end up being taken by councillors who have no knowledge of the residents’ area. Most of those councillors are likely to represent business wards, so they may have no interest in residents’ concerns at all. The Standards Committee’s policy is therefore a barrier to democracy.
The Standards Committee will meet on Friday 4 October at 11 am at the Guildhall to make a final decision on its dispensations policy. Based on its meetings on 4 and 6 September, it looks set to keep this barrier to democracy firmly in place, claiming that it is doing so “to maintain public confidence”. The meeting will be open to the public – but only to listen, of course, not to speak. Please come if you can, and at least be a presence there.
Yours sincerely Cllr Graeme Harrower
EMAIL FROM COUNCILLOR HARROWER TO THE STANDARDS COMMITTEE AND RESIDENTIAL WARD COUNCILLORS ON 7 SEPTEMBER 2019
What didn’t happen at the Standards Committee meeting on 6 September
At the meeting of the Standards Committee yesterday, the Chair said that full minutes would be prepared. Since they will be prepared by the City Corporation’s premier minute writer, I expect they will give a detailed account of what was said. What is important about this meeting, however, is what was not said, as I explain below.
(1) The meeting was attended by just over a third of the committee members. There were fewer committee members present than members of the public. That is remarkable, when you consider that this committee has, for the last five months, been the object of an expression of no confidence by City residents.
(2) Even more remarkable is that if you didn’t know this committee had lost the confidence of the public, you would never have guessed it from the discussion during the meeting. Not once during the hour and a half of discussion did anyone mention the residents’ petition, two wardmote resolutions, annual residents’ meeting or the representations from the City’s two largest residents’ associations, all calling for fundamental reform, including the grant of “general” dispensations.
(3) Instead, the committee avoided addressing the points made in the two emails below about the grant of “general” dispensations as the only way of resolving the grave democratic deficit and the lack of trust of members’ judgment which are both implicit in the current dispensations policy. Regarding the secondary issue of section 618, a couple of members supported making a recommendation for the prompt repeal of this outdated, obscure and repressive provision (something that the committee has done nothing about since it was first raised by a residents’ association eleven months ago).
(4) The battle for councillors being granted dispensations generally to speak on matters affecting their constituents was largely won when the committee was compelled by the Court to change its previous repressive policy in this regard last December. One member at yesterday’s meeting, though, still seemed to find this too much, and advocated that the right to speak be restricted in some circumstances.
(5) Regarding dispensations to vote, no-one could explain why a councillor should be refused such a dispensation when their interest in a matter was not greater than their constituents’, and when the absence of their participation in a vote could distort the outcome against the interest of those constituents.
(6) The grant of “general” dispensations would neatly solve the problem of the “cliff edge” between what is acceptable and what is not. A “general” dispensation would not cover a matter that affected a councillor uniquely or more than any of their constituents. That is the kind of matter on which speaking or voting would cause concern about the misuse of public office, and is what the legislation is aimed at. In practice, it should not be difficult to tell whether a matter affects a councillor uniquely or more than any others – it is a simple matter of fact. A “general” dispensation would cover a matter that did not affect the councillor more than any of their constituents. In that case, the councillor would – by definition – be speaking and voting on it in the interest of their constituents, which is exactly what the law permits, and democracy requires. In a case where only a small number of constituents are equally affected, the councillor should be trusted to use their judgment as to whether it would be appropriate to rely on the dispensation and to speak and/or vote on the matter.
(7) Regarding the process of requesting dispensations, the discussion parted from reality as much as it did on the substantive issues. It is a fact that a councillor will usually only know of the agenda for a meeting when it is published a week in advance. It was acknowledged by the Standards Chair that it is very difficult to convene a Dispensations Sub-Committee within a short period. The logical conclusion to draw from these two facts is that the current policy of granting dispensations on a case by case basis is inoperable. Bizarrely, the committee’s solution to this problem was to propose having fixed meetings of the Dispensations Sub-Committee every two months. Most requests for dispensations would therefore not be considered until after the meetings for which they were needed had taken place. The urgency procedure would have to be used instead. That would be highly undesirable, as it would entail decisions on the ability of elected members to represent their constituents being made on a case by case basis by unelected officials, with only the concurrence of the Chair and Deputy Chair, who supported the previous restriction on speaking and now support the restriction on voting.
Here are some reactions afterwards from residents who attended the meeting:
– There seemed to be some “face saving” going on within the committee.
– There is indeed “confusion” about standards in the City, but it isn’t on the part of the residents (as the Standards Chair claimed in response to the petition): it’s on the part of this committee.
A decision on whether to change the current dispensations policy, and on the four resubmitted requests for “general” dispensations, is due to be taken at the committee meeting on 4 October. Based on the experience of yesterday’s meeting, we can expect a few cosmetic changes to be proposed, and a vague commitment to a more “collegiate” culture (which presumably means less of the vigilantism we have seen in the last couple of years), but with nothing to back it up.
The overriding impression of yesterday’s meeting was of crew members rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, still in denial that it had struck an iceberg and was going to sink. They would be better advised to look for the lifeboat named “general dispensation”.
Regards, Graeme Harrower
EMAIL FROM COUNCILLOR HARROWER TO THE STANDARDS COMMITTEE ON 5 SEPTEMBER 2019
Outcome of the Dispensations Sub-Committee meeting on 4 September
The Dispensations Sub-Committee decided at its meeting yesterday to defer making a decision on the four requests for General Dispensations until the Standards Committee had decided either to change or confirm the current dispensations policy at its meeting on 4 October.
Points raised in that meeting which are relevant to the consideration of that policy by the Standards Committee in its meetings on 6 September and 4 October
(1) Previous submission of requests / nature of a General Dispensation
The Sub-Committee Chair said that “we have decided these applications [for General Dispensations] before [at the meeting of the Sub-Committee on 3 July], and can’t decide them differently without a very good reason. We can’t [approve] them for the reasons given last time. Nothing has changed.”
As Councillor Bostock made clear in the email by which he resubmitted his request (and which appears in an agenda supplement after he pointed out that it had been omitted from the agenda pack), the reason for his resubmission was that the previous Sub-Committee had ignored the fact that the original request was for a General Dispensation, and treated it as if were a request for dispensations for specific matters that had been mentioned only to explain the urgency of the request at that time. The previous Sub-Committee had not addressed, properly or at all, the points made in support of the General Dispensation.
In spite of this, the Chair yesterday continued not to address those points. In the previous meeting, she had described a General Dispensation as a “blank cheque”. In the meeting yesterday, she described it in equivalent terms: it would be a “ blanket dispensation”, and allow a member to “do what you like during your term of office”. The co-opted member described it as a “blanket permission to speak and vote” which would be “very dangerous”.
As explained in my email below, this is simply untrue: “a General Dispensation excludes the very matters that cause concern about the misuse of public office, which is what the legislation is aimed at”.
The co-opted member said she was concerned with the wording of the General Dispensation, giving as an example the situation where a member and nine other residents were affected by a planning application that would improve the value of their properties significantly but adversely affect the rest of the ward. She thought that the member should not have the right to vote in those circumstances. The Chair said she had the same concern. In that example, however, a General Dispensation would not, on its own terms, apply. That is because it excludes a situation where a matter affects a member more than their constituents, as it would where the value of the member’s property rose while the value of other residents’ properties fell because of the proposed development.
(2) Public confidence
At the meeting yesterday, an elected member remarked that not allowing a resident member to vote with a General Dispensation could have the effect of “distorting or changing a decision”. (The same point is made in the email below in (2) and (3) under “Standards Chair’s notes”.)
The Chair replied “That’s the price one pays to maintain public confidence”.
The member said “But the public don’t have confidence”.
The Chair said that even if the City residents didn’t have confidence in the dispensations policy [which is clearly the case, having regard to the petition, two wardmote resolutions, the residents’ annual meeting and representations from the associations], “we must look to the wider public”.
The Chair did not indicate who the members of this “wider public” were, why they would be interested in the City’s dispensation policy (which would not affect them as non-residents) or what evidence there was that they would think differently from the residents, whose view has already been tested. In fact, the only thing that non-residents are likely to know about the City’s standards policy is what they read in the press and online, which is that the City has a serious standards problem caused by the policy and actions of its previous Standards Committee.
(3) Trust in members
The co-opted member said that she was “sure current members would not exploit their position, but [granting general Dispensations] would open the door to future members who might take advantage – the wrong sort of people might join the Corporation.”
The Chair echoed this, saying that “future members may not have the same standards”.
If there has been no problem with members seeking to exploit their position during the last few decades (a point made by one of the elected members), why is there suddenly a concern about the future? In any case, the only way to “join” the Corporation as a member is to be elected. The co-opted – and unelected- member of this Sub-Committee therefore seemed to be concerned that the City residents might elect the “wrong sort of person”. I expect that the City residents – having already been told by the Standards Chair that they were “confused” – will find it offensive to hear that an unelected member of the Standards Committee thinks that they must be protected from the consequences of their electing the “wrong sort of person”. This email is being copied to the two largest residents’ associations, so the residents’ actual views on this matter can be known.
(4)The City Solicitor’s Views
Towards the end of the meeting yesterday, the City Solicitor gave his views. He repeated what he stated in the Report to be presented to the meeting of the Standards Committee tomorrow. The most relevant points were as follows:
”Members are entitled to put in broad applications, for up to four years, and they don’t have to be considered on a case by case basis.”
A dispensation may only be granted if “having regard to all the relevant circumstances” the grant would be in the “interest of persons living in the area”.
The members of the Sub-Committee therefore had a “duty to take account of all the relevant circumstances”. and per the Tameside case [mentioned in the Report] to “make reasonable enquiries” to fulfil that obligation.
In the light of the fact that the terms of a General Dispensation exclude matters that would cause concern about the misuse of public office, which is what the legislation is aimed at, and are restricted to matters where the resident member is acting in the interest of persons living in their area, this duty should not be difficult to discharge. The reason for the legislation providing for dispensations is to facilitate democratic representation. That is a fact which did not feature in the comments of the Chair and the co-opted member in the meeting yesterday.
(5) Possible changes to the current dispensations policy
At the meeting yesterday, the co-opted member mooted the possibility of changing the current dispensations policy by perhaps “delegating more” and having a “shorter application form”.
Minor or cosmetic changes of this kind, or some “meet in the middle solution”, will do nothing to address the grave democratic deficit that is inherent in the current policy’s near prohibition on the right to vote (“only in exceptional circumstances”), and the implicit lack of respect for members’ judgment.
Regards, Graeme Harrower
EMAIL FROM COUNCILLOR HARROWER TO THE STANDARDS COMMITTEE ON 2 SEPTEMBER 2019
As a member who has taken a close interest in standards matters over the last 18 months, I offer below a few thoughts on the matters to be considered by the Dispensations Sub-Committee this Wednesday (4 September) and by the Standards Committee at its meeting this Friday (6 September).
Two wardmote resolutions
The report of the City Solicitor in the agenda pack for the Standards Committee meeting on 6 September (the “Report”) refers only to a wardmote resolution passed by the Ward of Aldersgate in similar terms to the petition. Appendix 2 to the Report, though, reproduces a copy of a wardmote resolution passed by the Ward of Cripplegate in similar terms to the petition. To clarify, there were two wardmote resolutions passed by the City’s two largest residential wards in similar terms to the petition.
The effect of the legal advice given by the City Solicitor in the Report is that the law does not prevent the granting of a request for a “general” dispensation of the kind reproduced in Appendix 5 (a “General Dispensation”).
In the Standards Committee meeting on 15 November 2018, the City Solicitor stated that:
“….as a Member led authority,…. [the dispensations policy] was ultimately a political issue to be determined by members within the legal framework”, and that “members had a broad authority but not an unlimited one”.
Regarding the legal framework and the scope of members’ authority, he states in the Report that “it would be unlawful to adopt a policy at the extreme ends of the discretion i.e. to always to refuse applications or to always grant them”.
The original dispensations policy proposed by the Standards Committee last year before the Court required the policy to be amended came close to the first of those extremes, restricting resident councillors from even speaking on matters which affected their constituents, and granting dispensations to vote “only in exceptional circumstances”.
By contrast, a General Dispensation goes nowhere near the second of those extremes. It excludes any matter which affects the member concerned uniquely or more than any of their constituents. Rather than being a “blank cheque”, as it was wrongly described by a member of the Dispensations Sub-Committee at its meeting on 3 July 2019, a General Dispensation excludes the very matters that cause concern about the misuse of public office, which is what the legislation is aimed at. Matters in which the member has no greater interest than their constituents are plainly covered by the statutory ground for granting dispensations of being in “the interest of persons living in the authority’s area”. Otherwise, the constituents would be put at a disadvantage because their elected member happened to share with them an interest in a matter to be voted on by that member.
The rule against actual or apparent bias that is summarised in the Report is, as the City Solicitor acknowledges, an entirely separate matter from the dispensations policy. It applies in practice mainly to members of the Planning and Licensing Committees, and no less to “business” members who comprise a majority of those committees than to residential members.
A dispensations policy adopted by elected members needs to have the confidence of the public that elects them. The Corporation’s current dispensations policy does not have the public’s confidence, as evidenced by the petition, the two wardmote resolutions and representations made by two associations representing a majority of the City’s residents. All those documents call for General Dispensations to be granted. Anything short of that is likely to cause the present crisis of confidence in our standards regime to continue and escalate.
Incidental benefits of General Dispensations
(1) The grant of General Dispensations should, in many cases, make the issue of whether a member has an engaged “pecuniary interest” in a matter a moot one, and thus avoid an issue on which the Corporation’s own legal advice seems to have lacked consistency over the last 18 months.
(2) The Corporation’s current policy of granting dispensations on a case by case basis (except for a few peripheral matters, like speaking and voting on council tax) has been proved to be inoperable. Usually a member will only know of the agenda for a meeting when it is published a week in advance, and recent experience has shown that it seems not to be possible to convene a meeting of the Dispensations Sub-Committee within a week. It is obviously undesirable that a matter which involves democratic representation be decided under urgency by unelected officials with the concurrence of just two members. In a recent case, a request for a dispensation made one working hour after the agenda was published and nearly a working week before the meeting was held was not processed even under urgency.
(3) The Corporation’s current policy of granting dispensations on a case by case basis has resulted in its breaching its own policy, as in the case just mentioned. This undermines public confidence in our standards regime generally.
Standards Chair’s notes
There is nothing in the Standards Chair’s notes in agenda item 9 of the Standards Committee meeting on 6 September which addresses the points above.
I comment on three points in those notes as follows:
(1) The fact that a majority of the residents signing the petition were from the Barbican and Golden Lane estates, and that the “only” comments received in response to the Standards Chair’s letter in response to the petition came from the Barbican Association and Golden Lane Residents’ Association, is entirely to be expected, because a majority of City residents live in those estates and are represented by those associations.
(2) With regard to granting dispensations to vote, it is stated that “Should Members [of the Planning Committee and Community & Children’s Services Committee], with an engaged DPI, be able to vote, their vote would only tend to be significant if there were a relatively close division of opinion amongst members of the committee.” That is plainly correct. It is then stated that “By the same token, in this situation, members with an engaged DPI could be seen to be determining the outcome”. But what is wrong with that? The members concerned, if granted General Dispensations, could only vote if the matter did not affect them uniquely or more than their constituents. By denying them a vote in circumstances in which they have no greater interest in the matter than their constituents, the outcome of the matter could be determined by other members, including from business wards, who do not directly represent the affected public. How would that “be seen” by the public, and how would that be consistent with democracy?
(3) Regarding section 618, it is stated that “the only major exception [to residential members with an engaged DPI affecting the outcome of a vote] is the BRC….If section 618 were to be removed, however, with a general dispensation to vote that would mean that those with an engaged DPI could form the majority deciding policies, including in regard to charges impacting all residents.” As in (2) above, what is wrong with that, as the members could only vote with a General Dispensation in circumstances in which they have no greater interest in the matter than their constituents? There is also the point that – in the City Solicitor’s view – section 618 applies not only to Barbican resident members of the BRC, but also to other residential members voting on housing matters in other committees. It would surely serve the interests of transparency and democratic representation for the Standards Committee to recommend to the Policy and Resources Committee that the Corporation lobbies for the repeal of this antique, obscure and repressive provision, and relies on General Dispensations, the exclusions contained in them and members’ judgment.
The current dispensations policy seems to be based on the unexpressed assumption that residential members are inclined towards unlawfulness in speaking and voting on matters that affect their constituents, and need to be closely controlled in doing so by other members on the Dispensations Sub-Committee. There is no justification for this assumption, as revealed by a comment made by a long standing member of the Court in its meeting last March. If a member did, in future, misuse public office to make money, that would be a matter for the criminal law.
It is worth noting the point made in the requests for the General Dispensations in Appendix 5 that the fact that a member is granted a General Dispensation does not mean that they will necessarily use it. In a situation where, for example, the member does not have a greater interest in a matter than any of their constituents affected by it, but the number of those constituents is very small, the member may decide not to speak or vote on it, notwithstanding that they have a General Dispensation to do so. The judgment of members should be respected by other members, and not replaced by the view of less than a handful of their peers. Ultimately it should be for members’ constituents to decide whether they exercise their judgment correctly.
Regards, Graeme Harrower
Graeme Harrower material was originally posted on the Golden Lane Estate Residents Association website on 8 September 2019 and an archived version of the page can be found here: https://web.archive.org/web/20190912004109/http://www.goldenlaneestate.org/profiles/blogs/standards-committee-meets-because-of-the-residents-petition-and-i
Lastly for the current update, the words of Golden Lane Estate resident Jacqueline Swanson:
I, like many other residents of the estate have been truly appalled by the treatment that our resident Councillor Sue Pearson was subjected to last year (2018) because she spoke and voted at a meeting to prevent the planning permission for the COLPAI (City of London Primary Academy Islington) development to be delegated to Islington only.
The Monday morning meeting to vote on handing over planning powers was announced on the Friday before in what our local newspaper City Matters described as a last minute ambush by the City Corporation.
If any party was to come under scrutiny you think that would be the City Corporation but instead it was Cllr Sue Pearson who was accused of speaking and voting when she had a ‘pecuniary interest.’ A pecuniary interest suggests she was likely to gain financially from the decision. She obviously didn’t.
We all know Cllr Pearson to be of the utmost integrity – her concern was for the protection of democracy and the proper representation of Golden Lane residents. She felt, quite rightly, that as the development would have a considerable effect on City residents, then the City’s planning committee should also vote on any planning applications in order that residents would have the chance to be represented by their own Councillors.
Cllr Pearson was advised by a leading QC that she had no pecuniary interest in the matter and hence no dispensation was required. However, had there been one, there clearly was no time to apply for one. The motion itself was anti-democratic and the attempt to push it through so quickly was deeply cynical. Despite all this she was actually referred by the City Corporation to the police! They declined to investigate.
This has lead to demands from residents for Standard Committee reform but there is still unfortunately a level of maliciousness within the City Corporation which is directed personally at Cllr Pearson and is totally unacceptable. The latest example being at the Court of Common Council in July from Alderman Luder. Here’s my letter to the Alderman Wootton as the Chair of the “General Purposes Committee of Aldermen” which I sent on Monday 2 September to complain about his behaviour.
EMAIL TO ALDERMAN WOOTTON 2 SEPTEMBER 2019
Dear Alderman Wootton
I am one of the 558 residents of Cripplegate who voted for Cllr Sue Pearson and I have been following with growing concern the difficulties she has faced in properly representing her constituents, particularly her fellow residents of the Golden Lane Estate. Please read ‘difficulties’ as a heavy euphemism. In fact the recent ‘question’ posed by Alderman Luder at the meeting of Court of Common Council in July leads me to feel that Cllr Sue Pearson is being singled out and bullied. This is totally unacceptable and has deeply problematic consequences, not just for current representation but also on the effect that this may have on residents wishing to do their bit for their community in standing for Common Council in the near future.
Question from Alderman Luder:
“Could the Chairman of the Standards Committee confirm the rumours that a Member has made a claim for rights of light arising from the construction of COLPAI. If so, has the claim been settled, and would the Chairman agree that this indicates a disclosable pecuniary interest is engaged?”
I can’t accept that there was any need for the question to be asked and the response should have made that clear. I’m sure I don’t need to point out to you the obvious: a ‘pecuniary interest’ is only relevant if it is ‘engaged’ in a matter when a member participates in a discussion or vote in a Court or committee meeting about that matter. It is not relevant to a member claiming or receiving compensation from the Corporation in a private capacity. COLPAI rights of light only came up in one committee meeting which Cllr Pearson attended. She declared her interest in that meeting, and did not speak or vote on the matter, as minuted for public record. Normal procedure followed, job done – so why was the question even asked or entertained?
As I believe there is no good answer to that question, do you consider it appropriate that Alderman Luder be required to make an unconditional apology at the next meeting of the Court of Common Council?
We should consider the impact of the Alderman’s question on all members – clearly there were those who felt uncomfortable about its intent and had therefore warned Cllr Pearson in advance. Cultural attitudes towards bullying have changed in the last decade but it would appear that Alderman Luder has not sufficiently adjusted his thinking and behaviour. This is not to be or should be easily dismissed.
We are products of our own experiences so I would like to make a positive suggestion. Many local children have attended Prior Weston Primary School and it has a very clear code of acceptable conduct, which includes helping children who exhibit bullying behaviour understand the impact of their actions. The aim is not to vilify them but help them become a positive part of their community. Perhaps Alderman Luder could visit the school to talk to children about bullying and in doing so learn some useful lessons and increase his own self-awareness, or at the very least receive similar training?
I look forward to your response.
Yours sincerely, Jacqueline Swanson
Put a stop to bullying in the Court of Common Council by Jacqueline Swanson, Golden Lane Estate Residents Association website, 8 September 2019. Archived here: https://web.archive.org/web/20190912013013/http://www.goldenlaneestate.org/profiles/blogs/put-a-stop-to-stop-to-bullying-in-the-court-of-common-council