Openness and Transparency
On the tram on the way back from Bury after today's Greater Manchester Combined Authority meetings. I say meetings as there have been seven, of various lengths, with the last still going on as I left. One of the criticisms legitimately made of the CA has been a lack of apparent openness and a feeling that too many decisions are made behind closed doors. Today's programme was sadly a good example of why that is the case.
The formal agendas were completed relatively quickly and most of the discussion took place afterwards on far more interesting items in what is described as the "Informal Leaders" meeting. These are not decision making meetings and were originally set up essentially for conflict resolution. As is often the case they have lost much of their original purpose and allowed us to develop bad habits, habits we are about to lose.
For at least half the items discussed at today's Informal Leaders meeting there was absolutely no reason to discuss them in private, and now all those papers will be publicly released. In future we will operate to the convention that everything will be in public, whether it's formal decision making meetings or more informal policy development meetings, unless there is a very good reason why an item needs to be confidential. The public have a right to know what we are discussing and it is in the interest of the CA that they do. In future they will.