Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Wednesday 16th July 1pm

Meeting with Cllr. Ruth Dombey

It had been agreed that Ruth would propose and I would second the motion to lower the voting age to 16 which was to be put to full Council on Monday 21st  July. Ruth and I had arranged to meet to discuss the issues we wanted to raise & co-ordinate our speeches. The Sutton Youth Parliament had requested the opportunity to make a presentation at the meeting as they and the British Youth Council are actively campaigning on the issue, and the motion had been put off until this council meeting to accommodate them.


When Ruth arrived she was very cross. For council meetings the leadership & the opposition take turns to decide the order of debate of motions. This time it was the Conservatives’ choice. In consideration of the attendance by the Youth Parliament Ruth had kindly requested that Votes at 16 be the first of the three motions on the agenda to be debated. She had just learnt that the Tories had refused this request, which meant that either the members of the Youth Parliament presentation would have to wait through what we expected to be a long debate on the no confidence motion before making their presentation, or the presentation would have to come at the beginning of the meeting but the debate would not naturally follow on. We both agreed that it came across as extreme bad manners on the part of the Tories.


July 29, 2008 - Posted by | Meeting


  1. Jayne

    Really disappointed but not surprised in this post. Having accused me of personal digs in a post when you likened me to a shark, you now proceed to accuse me of bad manners because I didn’t agree to a request of yours.

    One of the main points of democracy for people of 16 or any age is to accept that people have differing views. There was a full public gallery who turned up at the Council meeting to watch a debate resulting from a policy that the Council has a direct ability to change; this was not the votes at 16 debate.

    It was apparent from formal discussions with other senior Liberal Democrats that the same level of discussion hadn’t been extended to those who actually organised the Council meeting so it is disingenuous to lay the blame on the party who had the decision on the order of debate.

    I’ll repeat what I said last Monday; the behaviour that you expect of others simply does not match the behaviour that you yourselves display.

    Comment by Cllr Paul Scully | July 29, 2008 | Reply

  2. Hi Jayne
    Another interesting post.
    I see that the Labour party may well put voying at 16 into their next manifesto.Will the Lib Dems?

    Comment by adrianne | July 30, 2008 | Reply

  3. Councillor Scully, whatever you try to insinuate about the organisation of the meeting the fact is that the Conservative group was faced with making a decision based on a specific set of circumstances and made the choice that effectively denied the Youth Parliament the opportunity to hear any of the Votes at 16 debate. This was a motion with the power to influence national policy. I suspect that your belief that the motion was irrelevant is linked to the fact that none of the Conservative group supported the motion to lower the voting age to 16.

    Comment by jaynemccoy | July 30, 2008 | Reply

  4. Hi Adrianne
    Lowering the voting age to 16 is already Liberal Democrat policy.

    Comment by jaynemccoy | July 30, 2008 | Reply

  5. Jayne

    Actually at least two Conservative councillors supported the motion to lower the voting age.

    In trying to influence national policy and arguing about an amendment that was expressly forbidden in the constitution, we were denied the time to debate on a policy that affected some 3000 residents in Sutton. Reduced visitors hours in the Controlled Parking Zones is not something that the Council can only influence, rather it determines that policy and can change it at a stroke of a pen.

    I did not say that the debate was irrelevant. I enjoy political debate but not at the expense of the business that needs to be carried out at the few full Council meetings that we have. The debate was about extending democracy, yet you seem unwilling to accept the agreed democratic principles of the conduct of council meetings. There were more people that attended to watch the No Confidence motion than there were to watch the Votes at 16 debate. The No Confidence motion was something that the council could affect directly and immediately.

    We heard a lot in the presentation likening the debate to the struggle of the suffragettes, yet you patronise the young people by seeeming to suggest that they failed at the first hurdle by having to go to bed early on a school night.

    This could and should have been handled better. If the expectations of the Youth Parliament had been raised too high in thinking that other business would automatically stop on every request, then this is simply not real life and the blame must remain with you.

    Comment by Cllr Paul Scully | August 1, 2008 | Reply

  6. Cllr Scully
    Some points in response:

    I am pleased to hear that two of the twenty Conservatives at the meeting voted in favour of lowering the voting age to 16. I am sorry I obviously failed to see their raised hands at the meeting. I did notice Cllr. Moira Butt’s abstention.

    If you believed that the motion on controlled parking zones was more important than the votes at 16 one then why did you not stand by that principle and prioritise that motion?

    How did you know in the week before the meeting that there would be more residents attending in respect of the no confidence motion than for the votes at 16 one?

    You state that the no confidence motion was one that the Council could affect directly and immediately and I agree – but I fail to see how the bullied resignation of a lead member would have any direct impact on services to residents in an environment where decisions are made democratically. You repeatedly stated at the meeting that the motion was actually about the green waste issue, but your motion made no mention of this. I would have been much less outraged if it had been worded more honestly.

    Finally, I fail to see how the time at which someone chooses to go to bed has any relevance to whether or not they should be allowed to vote in public elections.

    Comment by jaynemccoy | August 20, 2008 | Reply

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