Southwark Council proposals to make Community Council meetings more efficient will see traffic management schemes “no longer formally considered” at the gatherings.
While residents will still have a say in the decision making process of small traffic matters, they will no longer have powers to make the actual decision on whether they happen or not – a responsibility that will become a cabinet member’s.
The news of the change was criticised by the Liberal Democrats, who introduced the meetings, saying the changes turn the events into “talking shops”.
Councillor Anood Al-Samerai, Leader of the Southwark Liberal Democrats, said: “Liberal Democrats introduced community councils and we have always believed that they should represent genuine neighbourhoods and make real decisions.
“Sadly, Labour are determined to just turn them into ‘talking shops’ covering huge geographical areas. Their own report says that five out of seven community council meetings will not make formal decisions.
“These new proposals mean that even more power is being taken away from communities and more decisions will be made in the Town Hall instead.”
Councillor Damian O’Brien, the opposition spokesperson for transport, echoed the sentiment, saying residents are a “critical” source when it comes to understanding “how traffic moves in the area”.
Traffic is a hot-topic across Southwark, with drivers regularly facing long traffic jams on some roads. More congestion is expected in the north of the borough next month as well, as Tower Bridge closes to vehicles for vital structural repairs over three months.
Councillor Barrie Hargrove, Southwark Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Safety, said: “We’re keen to engage as many local people as possible in community councils, so that we capture their views about important issues.
“We know that the current format has been quite formal, and not particularly inviting to a wide audience.
“I hope that councillor colleagues welcome these steps which are designed to create more informal and engaging Community Councils, so that councillors are fully able to speak to local people about the things that matter to them.”
The changes will be implemented later this year, subject to approval by Council Assembly on November 30.