Well the third AGM of this week was last night (see others here) - this is the evening where various committee places get allocated - some are divided proportionally according to how many councillors from a particular political group while other committees and panels just have a party representative - there was some 'fun' last night - well fun is not the word - it was tedious and one of the least attractive side of politics.
Photo: View of Ebley Mill from top of Ash Lane
The first 'fun' was that two Tory councillors, John Jeffries and Nigel Studdart Kennedy declared they would now stand as independents - understandably the Tory Leader Frances Roden said she questioned how they could stand as a Tory knowing that they would not be part of the party group - their argument was that they were still Tories......anyhow surprisingly the rules mean that while they are now independents they get seats on committees as part of the Tory allocation.
All this a little unfair it seems to me that Linda Townley who stands as an Independent doesn't get that right - indeed she ended up with offers on panels and places that were not really of her choosing. It is also sad to see her talents not utilised in scrutiny committees - while I do not agree with all she says she is excellent at picking out many of the key issues - indeed at this meeting she raised a key point about the constitution.
The point raised basically was that decisions are currently delegated to Officers of the Council - it would be better that Cabinet Members made those decisions and were accountable for that - otherwise what are we paying them for? Indeed some changes to the Constitution were voted through - I hope perhaps a scrutiny group can look at this in more details.
A couple of items on the agenda related to our council computers - the first was a change to the allowance so that rather than being loaned a computer we would be given some money towards one - this would lead to financial savings for the Council and most councillors appear to be in favour - however some of the nitty gritty still needs sorting so it went back to look at again in July. Meanwhile an item on tightening security of our emails etc was also deferred - it was based on government guidelines but seems to me very over the top - emails get coded as restricted and already it takes some 7 minutes to start the computer up with various stages to go through - two passwords, name and a special number that has to be created on a separate gizmo at the time you want to get into the computer plus various "OK" buttons to click.....some are hopeful the new government might remove some of the requirements.
Well now folk can get a petition together - download details from meeting notes here.
I am on Performance Overview and Scrutiny Committee again and will be letting folk know what I get up to in that - Greens have a seat on all the committees and panels and we meet at least monthly as a group to try and work together to bring about the changes we are seeking. It is also an opportunity to share ideas and see what we can push - for example we are following with interest Kirklees....nearly a significant Green party policy gain in Kirklees. They're drawing up plans to provide private householders with free solar panels. Not there yet but well on the way. Details in this blog posting:
Interestingly the new Energy Panel - set up as a result of the recommendations the Scrutiny inquiry that I chaired - was due to have only 6 councillors on it - it ended up with 12 as interest was so strong! Let's hope we can make some exciting stuff happen this year!