Who needs democracy?

I attended a meeting of the Constitution & Ethics Committee today. On Zoom. It worked perfectly satisfactorily from a process point of view. All members of the committee were visible, the public had access and a debate was possible. All good so far.

Problem is the Committee made decisions about changing existing practice in the absence of any evidence that either the the existing practice is not working or that the proposed new practice would be better. As far as I’m concerned you don’t change what you’re doing unless you can change to something better. As they say ‘if it’s not broke don’t fix it’

Amongst other items it was recommended that the committee agree to abolish the Cambridge Joint Area Committee (CJAC). The public papers to justify this move gave two reasons:


Reason number 1 doesn’t hold water. Cambridge is manifestly different to the other constituent districts in Cambridge so it would seem to be sensible that would be treated differently. And reason number 2 is a non-reason. The simple existence of an alternative is no reason on it’s own for change if there is no advantage to be gained. No analysis of the proposal versus the status quo was given so how could non Cambridge City members of the committee make an informed decision about it?

There was a second recommendation to withdraw from the Cambridge & Fringes Joint Development Control Commitee. Again two reasons were give to justify this change.


Reason number 1 is another way of saying ‘because it’s different we must change it’ without acknowledging that there may (there are) perfectly good reasons for the difference. And reason number 2 is a rerun of the reason number 1 for the CJAC abolition. And again there was no analysis of the the proposal versus the status quo.

I argued for a deferment to enable some consultation and a better response to the over 30 public comments submitted to the meeting and because, of course, we’ve got bigger issues to worry about (Covid-19). No use. The Tories want to do it so their block vote comes out so in defiance of the logic that if you’ve got no evidence you can’t make a decision both recommendations were carried 5-3 with Lib Dems and Labour voting against.



  1. Depressing – I was one of those raising a question on abolishing CJAC. Haven’t found the streaming yet but I guess it will be coming later. At 2pm I listened to another committee on Zoom. So, what will happen now? Full chamber is meeting in June and they have majority. Same outcome.


  2. Your contribution to the debate was concise, logical and irrefutable, yet the Chair dismissed your request for deferment out of hand – no reasons given. Outrageous that the City Council and South Cambs District Council were not consulted.


    • Thank you for such kind remarks! I’m sorry though it’s the way our politics have developed with no attempt forge ‘broad coalitions’. I was especially disappointed that the Tories didn’t even attempt to defend their position. But then they didn’t need to, they knew they’s win the vote anyway.


  3. Very well tried David. Many congratulations for your constant efforts.

    Time for another expose for our ‘Rulers’ in Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs page, I think. It will not be the first time they have featured and indeed headed up the fortnight’s horror stories…

    I think they are drinking too deeply at the well of their great hero and model, the Great Leveller Himself, His Highness the Lord Protector. How they must dislike us at this end of the County. We should put up and shut up and do what we do best, and pay the bills.

    Plus ca change, eh?

    You can take Cromwell out of Huntingdon, but you can’t take Huntingdon away from Cromwell.

    How lucky we are there so that you can at least expose their tyranny to the disinfectant of your sunlight, even if the noxiousness is deeply ingrained

    All best, and all good wishes

    John Latham


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