Public voice to be heard loud and clear?

Coun. Ged Mirfin
Coun. Ged Mirfin

A Ribble Valley councillor is calling for members of the public to be given more time to have their say.

Coun. Ged Mirfin, who represents the Billington, Brockhall and Old Langho ward, is putting a motion to be debated at the next Full Council meeting proposing to extend speaking rights for members of the public from three to between five and seven minutes.

He said: “The current time limit of three minutes is utterly ludicrous. It simply is not long enough. Even for a member of the public trying to get across detailed arguments on a complex issue like planning it is extremely challenging.

“Not everyone has the ability to reduce complex arguments to their essentials nor are they all necessarily confident public speakers able to stand up and talk confidently in a public arena in front of a large audience.”

Coun. Mirfin added: “At the recent planning and development committee meeting, which took place on June 22nd, there was a decision item on ‘Public Participation At Planning Committee’. The item was ostensibly about the order in which applicants and objectors speak, but I raised the issue of the time limits placed on public participants.

“I stated this was an issue I feel extremely passionately about. The world has changed fundamentally following the disastrous Grenfell Tower Fire in London.

“Post-Grenfell public voices not only have a right to be heard, but also deserve to be heard loudly.”

Coun. Mirfin concluded: “Before I arrived at the meeting my fellow councillor, Stephen Atkinson and I overheard a group of residents talking about the existing public speaking protocols. What they said aptly sums up my own view: ‘Its utterly ludicrous that we only get three minutes to speak - it’s just not long enough to get our view across!’

“I’m utterly fed up of applicants and objectors being cut short when they’ve not had the time to get their argument across on an issue which may be critically important to them both financially and emotionally.”