Last night’s budget debate had its moments. I have already written about the leader, Cllr Holdcroft, and his confessing to having sold a scrutiny chair to Cllr Woodley a couple of years ago in exchange for his support of the budget. I should add that Ron Woodley strenuously denies this.
Cllr Nigel Holdcroft was rather self-satisfied, it appeared to me, in his opening and closing speeches. He will feel pleased that he has again cheated defeat in the chamber. As he pointed out, the arithmetic could have meant Tory defeat, yet despite the huffing and puffing by the Independent Group enough of them voted with the Tories to secure victory for Nigel.
In the end the Tories won a comfortable 29 to 19 votes, with one abstention. All of the Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors opposed the budget. The Independent councillors were split. Cllr Anne Chalk, the sole Independent to oppose the budget last year, voted for it this year. Cllr Velmurugan spoke against the budget, said he would oppose it, and then voted for it. (In the break after the budget debate he decided to berate me whilst I was in conversation about an unrelated matter with a Southend Echo reporter. He repeatedly called me a liar – what I was supposed to have lied about is beyond me, but his contribution to the budget debate can be viewed online. It will be noted that he concludes with “I will not vote for this budget”.)
For the record here is a list of those who spoke in the budget debate: Holdcroft, Longley, Terry, Gilbert, Flewitt, Ware-Lane, Norman, Borton, Morgan, Anne Jones, Lamb, McMahon, Courtenay, Aylen, Woodley, Wexham, Holland, Velmurugan, David Garston, Holdcroft.
Cllr Longley was opposed to the loss of jobs. Cllr Terry talked about debt (£63million when this administration took over, £271million today). Cllr Flewitt moaned about people being political. My speech is reproduced elsewhere in this blog. Cllr Borton spoke of attacks on the poor. Tory Leader-in-waiting, Cllr John Lamb, referred to a Lib Dem/Conservative government – clearly attempting to shift blame.
At the start of the meeting I asked a question: When is the likely start date for the local Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)?
The reply was April 2015. My supplementary concerned any potential gap between the ending of Section 106 agreements and the start of the CIL – I was assured there would be no gap, although the answer was a little indecisive. I will chase up with officers.
I spoke about the Counter Fraud Update Report; this item introduces the concept of Council Cops. I also spoke about Hackney Carriage Fares. I had also submitted a motion about Fixed Odds Betting terminals (seconded by Cllr Anne Jones), and this will be discussed at Cabinet.