8 Jul 2011

Greens ask: who's making the decisions on council?

Ebley Mill viewed from Randwick
Last night there was an almost empty agenda for the full council meeting. It makes one wonder who is making the decisions, as it doesn't seem to be the elected members in the council chamber. First in this post is comments by Greens to the press re the agenda which John Marjoram also raised during the evening - then later on in this blog is info on the motion re SNJ and other stuff that evening.

Here is what Cllr John Marjoram (Trinity ward) had to say: "There is one single item on the agenda, the appointment of a monitoring officer. Who is conducting the council's business and making the decisions if not the councillors? We really are left at a loss about our democracy if everything is
being decided by a shady cabal behind closed doors. There are huge issues facing Stroud District and yet when we meet we are left to discuss the appointment of an officer; it would be a farce if it wasn't so serious."

Cllr Catherine Farrell (Nailsworth) added: "What a huge waste of money and resources to discuss one minor issue. Councillors will be paid expenses to travel to Ebley Mill from across the district, which wastes both energy and money. With officers, there will be around 50 people at the meeting: it
hardly seems a good use of money in these straitened times. This council has serious work to do and as Greens we are eager to address the cuts imposed on our district by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government. There are also important issues of improving how we manage and reduce our waste and how we create more jobs. There is plenty that needs to be done!"

SNJ motion

A motion was put to Council expressing concerns re the SNJ and Gazette reporters moving to Tetbury and calling for the company to relook at it - see my previous blog here - there was much debate but with the exception of three Conservatives the motion calling for a rethink was passed. The arguments to me are so straight forward - a local paper must for example have reporters who are approachable and available to the local community - we are very lucky in this area to have some excellent reporters who are committed to Stroud - a move to Tetbury risks cutting those links - folk will not be able to drop in with adverts or obituaries or tell thos elittle bits of news. Indeed in many areas papers are getting even more local - Randwick of course has had the weekly Randwick Runner with 300 or so issues for decades - and we are very fortunate to have that place to share community news. Of course there are economic considerations but go cut those links will be newspaper suicide.

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Cllr Simon Pickering put in a couple of other formal questions - one re the Woolaways and a clarification re actions and one re Stratford Park expressing concerns re how the contract will play out over the summer before the new company may take over. On the later point the Cabinet member gave an excellent account of actions being taken.

Anyhow in Scrutiny last week the agenda was also slim - although that is an issue for us on that Committee to see what needs work. It is a new group for me - first time on Strategic Scrutiny as opposed to the Performance and Overview that I have been on. It is a welcomed change and similar but allows a different focus - already Task and Finish groups looking at the Sheltered Accommodation Review and Member Participation.

Earlier this week in the Policy Panel for councillors on planning there was huge amounts to discuss - and massive potential impacts on the district as to where new housing goes. There is much to decide and the role of councillors in those discussions was very much apart of that meeting....what a contrast to last nights meeting....but I am rambling and must get to work!

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