Another public meeting tonight about the reorganisation of secondary education in Powys. This time at Llanfair Caereinion, where my own old school is under threat. 150 people turned up, including our MP, who is becoming a regular at my meetings. He's very welcome. Great speeches from the floor. I hope that the Councillors perform as well when it comes to their turn.
But one speaker (a councillor) was seriously agitated that what I've called a 'draft document for consultation' had been 'leaked' - for what she said was 'political purposes'. I didn't know what this meant. I had already explained what happened - but to be fair the agitated individual had turned up late and had not heard what I'd said. I had informed people that a copy of the document had been given to me, not marked in any way as confidential, by someone with no connection whatsoever with the Council. It was several hours until I had known that it had been 'leaked'. Seemed I was being berated for making public something hugely controversial. If I hadn't, someone else would have, and I'd have been crucified by just sitting on the information. Win some, lose some I suppose.
Anyway, lets get to the point of this post. Some councillors do seem to be agitated about the public having a say on an issue of huge public importance - before everything has been 'approved' for the public's eyes, having gone through all the Council's procedures. Discussion must be restricted within boundaries set by the Council itself. Its almost as if the public cannot be trusted with 'undoctored' information. I do not agree with this approach. Tonight, maybe 30 speakers outlined their opinions, in front of Councillors, including the Councillor responsible for education. They were influencing the Council debate that will eventually take place. I thought it was exhilarating. Genuine democracy in action. Young people in the audience, and participating. Did more for the democratic process than anything I've been involved in. I did take a bit of stick. But I can take it. Small price to pay.