22 May 2009

Tory defeat on committee numbers

Full Council last night - I got there just after 6pm and we didn't leave until 11.15pm - a long meeting with some interesting moments...there is much, much I could write but have little time before work so a few highlights...

Photo: Ebley Mill from Randwick

Chas Fellows was again elected Leader of the Council despite some rumours about other Tories trying to take over.

The Tory amendments to the constitution on planning were withdrawn after much vocal opposition - as noted before on this blog changes are needed to planning but not the ways that are being proposed - furthermore other measures could be taken without in my view diluting democracy. I have already mentioned this and will again.

The Tories were also surprisingly defeated on their plan to cut some Members committee sizes from 12 to 9. It is rare the Tories are defeated when they have 31 of the 51 councillors. However there seemed no real reason for this change that would dilute the richness and experience in committees - anyhow a couple of Tories voted against, a couple abstained, and several Tories didn't attend and so the move was defeated. So then we had a long drawn out process of electing Members to each committee.....

The Members Allowances were then voted on and cuts to sandwiches for members were made along with some other measures - I had previously taken part in the consultation on this - and have to say I was disappointed that the Green party amendment to cut petrol allowances from over 56p a mile to 25p a mile was voted out by Tories and a few others. The 25p was on the basis of that is how much Parkers calculate it costs to run a car if you own one anyway and do some mileage. It would also stop rewarding gas guzzlers.

The civic timetable (ie when we have our Council meetings) was up next and Cabinet meetings have moved from evenings to mornings making it very difficult for those of us who work daytimes to attend - a point I made at the meeting.

Last up came the Housing Revenue Budget and the £1.2m overspend - no answers yet but some angry councillors - and rightly so - this is public money - but let's wait for results of inquiry before pointing fingers. Apols for being so brief - must to work now!

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