March 4, 2014 1 Comment
There is a theme developing amongst a number of Conservative councillors in Southend that voting against the budget without providing an alternative is mere political posturing. As one of those who did oppose I refute this.
If nothing else, the Labour councillors can lay claim to consistency; two budgets so far in my tenure, and both unanimously opposed by all six of us. Last year we did provide amendments – no less derided by Cllr Holdcroft and his administration – which at least confirms than posturing resides firmly in the Conservative camp.
There is a failure, probably deliberate, to grasp, amongst Conservative members, what the role of Opposition is. It is not about yah-boo politics (Labour responses to the budget last week were restrained and considered), but about holding the administration to account.
Of course, I accept that Cllr Holdcroft was in a bind – all things being considered it was a far from disastrous budget (and there were things to applaud) – but in many ways it was a bind that he had a hand in making. What we are seeing is Government-made austerity, and this is a Government that the administration helped to elect.
Cllr Flewitt (Conservative, St Laurence) writes that our opposition to the budget was “a crude and insulting way to represent residents interests.” Cllr Flewitt does rather get confused; he attacks the Labour and Liberal Democrat members, then claims “of course their way behaviour antics, best summed-up as if i cannot get my own way, i will stand-up and then leave the chamber”. This is clearly a reference to Cllr Woodley (Independent, Thorpe). Mark clearly needs the services of a proofreader.
Mark likes to huff and puff about others politicising – a case of seeing in others faults prevalent in oneself.
Rejecting the budget is not a condemnation of all that it held. My budget speech shows that there were things I welcomed. But I cannot vote for job losses and library cutbacks, despite the absence of alternatives.
I have yet to see the minutes of the last weeks’ Full Council meeting and so cannot confirm the names of those Independents who voted with the Conservative to ensure the budget was passed. However, Mark Flewitt does name them in his post.
Cllr Marimuthu Velmurugan almost always votes with administration these days, even if he says is not going to. His support was no surprise.
Cllrs Stafford and Woodley have that memorandum of understanding and so they were obliged to support the budget.
Cllr Aylen was, until 2012, a Tory and so his support may be understandable.
What did surprise me is that Cllrs Chalk and Van Looy voted for the budget. I doubt we will ever hear an explanation for that, although I would be happy to publish their thoughts for doing so in this blog.