A quite unsatisfactory affair

And so, back to politics ….

Last night’s Policy and Resources Scrutiny Committee had its interesting moments. Cllr Ron Woodley (Thorpe, Independent) used this as an opportunity to re-ask questions about the level of borrowing by the council. Whilst I do not entirely agree with his line of reasoning, it is a reasonable question to ask. The Leader (Cllr Nigel Holdcroft) may find it exasperating, but I do not think statements like “well, if members do not understand it” are particularly helpful. I am fairly relaxed about the repayment regime, but I confess to not being a financial expert. Even if it is tedious to repeat previous statements, since we are talking about millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money it is only right that this be subject to rigorous examination.

Cllr Holdcroft used the opportunity to deliver a long list of things that had been done because of borrowing. Whilst there are things that I think should not have had money spent on them I agree with Nigel in the respect that it is important to borrow to finance big projects. It is an argument I would also make about central Government, although there are many of his persuasion who would disagree with me. I think new schools, improvements to transport infrastructure, etc are necessary, and saving up to do this flies in the face of common sense. Borrowing is sensible if done prudently.

I did find it odd that Ron used his position as chair to ask rhetorical questions, to deliver a lecture of sorts, and to expound his world view on finance. I also find it odd that he votes from the chair – something that chairs normally resort to only in the event of a tie. His style that effectively leads debate rather than umpires it is not to my liking.

Nigel did refer to bad financial decisions made by previous administrations. I must ask what these were. It should prove to be an illuminating list.

We had a vote on the setting of council rents, that is, what rise should be made. This was handled badly, and I find it disturbing that a clear decision made by a show of hands can be reversed by ordering a new vote on a tweaked question. Re-asking a question until you get the answer you want is not how democracy should work. In my view a clear steer was given when the committee voted for the lowest rise for council rents on offer.

This was subsequently overturned, and here the Independent Group showed their true colours. Ron Woodley voted for the larger rise, and Cllrs Brian Ayling (St Luke’s) and Mike Stafford (Thorpe) abstained, thus delivering victory to the Tories. The Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors voted against the higher rise, but were outnumbered.

Brian Ayling will have to answer to his residents. Thorpe councillors do not encounter many council tenants, but St Luke’s ones do. It is a kick in the teeth to his residents to have allowed this to happen. Brian has a track record of voting against his residents best interests.

The quote of the night belongs to Ron Woodley. He stated “I’ve been responsible in the past for making a lot of people redundant”. Frankly, that is not something I would boast about it.

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2 Responses to A quite unsatisfactory affair

  1. Bernard says:

    I think what you have said here Julian makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately the independents that would have totally supported you are not on this committee.

  2. If they wish to make their opinions known I am more than happy to publish them here.

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