And at a time when the public have understandably lost trust in our politicians locally and nationally it gave us an opportunity for people to feel as if their views really counted.
Therefore the responsibility laying on `Cllr Macintosh's shoulders to answer the publics questions honestly and without the usual political spin was very great indeed.
The very first question at the very start of the webchat set the agenda nicely it read:
11:01: Comment From Jon Knaggs
"Has the decision been made, has the Fish Market's fate been sealed ? "
Cllr Mackintosh keen to get off to a good start and assure people that their views really did count was quick to counter:
1:02: David Mackintosh:
No, the planning application for the Bus Interchange will be considered at a meeting of the Borough Council’s Planning Committee in April. Members of that Committee will have the opportunity to hear from the public and finally vote to approve, reject or defer the application. Everyone will have the opportunity to go along again and make their views known
A little later on another contributor questioned once more the integrity of the process:
11:22: Comment From Bus User
Why are you bothering to ask us as it's obvious you have already made up your mind?Cllr Mackintosh was a little slower in responding this time but was equally unequivocal with his answer
11:34: David Mackintosh:
Bus User - I am very supportive of these proposals. But the final decision will be taken by members of the Planning Committee in April and I am not a member.
That's all clear then, no decisions made, nothing will happen until the Planning Committee have met, and we all have the opportunity to make our views known?
So imagine the surprise when somebody party to Friday's webchat visited the town centre this morning and witnessed the following scenes outside the Fish Market and in Sheep Street on the site of the proposed but not yet decided upon Bus Interchange!
What on earth are you doing? he asked the workmen. Cutting down trees mate to make way for the new Bus Station. Unperturbed he phoned NBC and asked to be put through to whoever was responsible for tree works and asked the same question.
A very similar reply was given, "The whole areas coming down for the new Bus Interchange" they said, even the much acclaimed "Loo of the year" much loved by the public and Market Traders alike is to be levelled
"But it hasn't even gone before the Planning Committee yet to be decided upon" he said, "so aren't the Council jumping the gun by destroying some very fine trees?" he asked
"Nothing to do with us I am afraid, you need to talk to Planning" they replied.
So there you have it, NO we haven't made our minds up really means YES we have, and the Planning Committee which is stuffed with Cllrs who have already spoken in the press in favour of the plan which has to decide on a number of issues including the loss of any good mature trees? has now been guzzumped by the Council who are carrying on with their plans regardless of the process.
Cllr Mackintosh has already been criticised this week for his ridiculous suggestion that a revamp of the existing Bus Station would cost a whopping £30m when we all know that to be a ridiculous estimate, but now as Leader of the Council I think he owes us either an apology for publicly misleading us all on Friday and/or an explanation as to why no one on the Council is listening to a word he says, as they are simply riding roughshod over the democratic process and sticking two fingers up to people of Northampton whilst they are at it!
Either way its a dark day for local government when the horrible truth of how the Council really operates is so easily and openly uncovered for all to see.
The Planning Committee meeting will be fun now, perhaps they should think to rename it the Post Decision, Rubber Stamp Committee?