Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Numbers Game

Photo by Alex Proimos, 2009

Still problems with the microphone system, leading some Councillors to avoid using them at all during last nights Overview meeting, so I missed some of the speeches (the whirring behind the public gallery didn't help either). It was reported in the preamble that the report into Urgent Decisions wasn't ready so that will come at a later meeting. I completely agree about the frustration here about the lateness of reports. Excuses about cuts aren't good enough. Just get on with it.

Clive Hart spoke about the Forward and Draft Corporate Plans and gave some updates on key things from each. There was quite a debate here about the balance to be struck between detailed actions in the Corporate Plan and its strategic nature. I agree with the Conservatives here that the Plan is too vague and sanitised and has too many priorities. On that last point it was undermined by Harts own argument about the limiting effects of Government cuts. If there is less to go around, and you don't believe in localism, then surely it means fewer priorities? I'd rather the Council aimed for less but delivered all of it than to spread itself thin trying to do more and failing. A motion was passed that the Corporate Plan should be looked at again and brought back to Overview in 6 weeks.

The theme of the meeting was the Conservative lead on the voting as alluded to in the preview. For Labour to win a vote, Tom King would have to vote with them. That didn't happen. The result? A motion was passed asking that Cabinet reconsider the Birchington parking scheme.

Hart asked for input into moving towards a "linear" parking fees system from the current, buying a big block of time, idea. Tagged onto this is the feeling from the Cabinet that this isn't the way they want to go. An indicative vote was held here and I think I might have gotten my notes wrong because I have all but one Member voting against this linear system. Hopefully a reader will confirm or correct me...

The Community Safety stuff came up with a couple of comments about Ramsgate seeming to be lacking with police. Sadly that's about all we got because a motion was put to adjourn the meeting and come back as soon as to complete the remaining items.

Agenda items 8, 9, 11 and 12 have been put off and its unlikely Ill be able to attend the reconvened meeting because the Council's website sucks so much, I probably wont know where and when the new meeting will be. I'm still waiting for the Full Council webcast and Minutes from 2 weeks ago!

All motions mentioned are subject to Cabinet whim. As we've seen with previous motions, Cabinet can just ignore them, and I expect no different here. They will say they note the motions but that's about all.


Will Scobie said...


You are right about all but one member voting against the linear system. I was the one member who voted against, not out of any commitment to the linear parking scheme, but because I do not think scrutiny should get into the habit of simply rejecting entire documents. I think that we should make constructive comments. The fact that both Cllr Hart and Cllr Poole were in attendance and stated that they wanted a different scheme was enough for me, especially when combined with the fact that this is due to come back to Full Council anyway for members to discuss.

Also as soon as I get the date for the reconvened scrutiny meeting, I will let you know.

Anonymous said...

rumour has it that Worrow has now jumped ship again and wants to be a Lib Dem!

Cllr. Mike Harrison said...

No doubt the current Cabinet will learn from their predecessors take note of Cllr Bayfords comment the " Scrutiny can agree what they want but when it gets to Cabinet we will just throw it out"

Cllr. Neil Hornus said...

I think there are a couple of key points I would like to make about last nights meeting and indeed the way that scrutiny acts in general.

firstly on parking. I am not totally against a linear parking structure (I know members of the public would like a simpler system). I did (and still do) have a problem with Birchington being treated differently than other areas (it is much easier for people to know that certain car parks are free all day saturday, and I think people in other areas would not be happy if Birchington got different parking rules to everywhere else, asking why did Margate or Broadstairs or Ramsgate get the same treatment) hence the proposal I moved at the meeting. I think generally as councillors we were not happy with the overall report, and felt it lacked depth and detail in lots of different areas (and it was really nice to see a vote not divided on party lines) and I felt our vote in scrutiny was in part against the quality of the report.

when it comes to the corporate plan (although I still do not believe it should be called a corporate plan) I was a little disappointed to see the vote to return the plan to cabinet for more detail split along party lines. I think the points that were raised were valid. No one on the Conservative side was talking down Thanet (as Cllr Poole suggested at one point). We simply felt that the document was aspirational, but did not provide either criteria to judge whether parts had been successful or specific actions that would be taken to ensure their success. I appreciate that you could judge all of these at a later stage (in a year look at how we did and whether we gained any ground or not) but if you do not have clear targets then sometimes you don't drive yourself to meet them (or even surpass them).

I know that I will get responses about cross party voting and always being the same (and that if it was the Conservative plan we would all have voted for it, or in this case against the proposal) but I do feel that valid points were made and I look forward to the cabinet considering them and showing how they are going to respond to the suggestions that scrutiny makes.

On a final note I agree totally about the microphones, and indeed the point you made in a previous blog post about releasing meetings as MP3 files rather than only video (although obviously this needs the microphones to work first) and I have written to the Chief Executive to raise both issues to ensure that member of the public both in the gallery and on the internet are able to follow what we are saying and doing as councillors.

Birch Tree said...

So - let me get this straight, wonderboy Worrow wants half-hour free parking in Birchington but the other towns could get free parking all day Saturday? Just shows what a childish twit he is - had to shout and get his sweets before everyone else got the better choice. Thank you so much blunderboy!!!!

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone be surprised that Worrow has jumped ship again? He changed colour four times in four years before - five out of five seems reasonable to me.!.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Ken Gregory is due to turn is coat again too any time soon?

Will Scobie said...

The rescheduled meeting is due to take place on Thursday 22nd March in the Council Chamber from 7. Hopefully this one won't take hours and hours again.