A look back at last night’s Full Council in Southend-on-Sea
February 27, 2015 3 Comments
We finished at midnight, which was pretty good going when compared to last year.
I am not going to give a full account of the more than six hour meeting; as usual this is just a collection of my contributions and other random notes.
Prior to the meeting I spoke with a number of protesters from UNISON, they were lobbying against the Council cuts (especially to the mental health support service).
We began with the budget. My speech is reproduced in the previous posting.
Cllr Lamb claimed that the previous (Conservative) administration had reduced the Cabinet by one post – not true. As Cllr Moyies spoke Cllr Waterworth pointedly got up and withdrew to the back and side of the chamber. Cllr Moyies said: “I have always believed in small government” – which clearly sets out his right-wing credentials.
Cllr Velmurugan: “I supported the previous administration; they did a great job, no doubt about it.” Dr Vel, as he likes to be known, is certainly an enigma.
Cllr Morgan produced the wittiest contribution to the budget debate, Cllr Salter the most surreal. I should also give a special mention to my Milton colleague, Cllr Nevin, who made an excellent contribution.
Cllr Waterworth’s petulance did not end with Moyies speech, he left before the votes.
All the Conservative amendments were comprehensively rejected. The Joint Administration’s budget was carried 30 -17, with one abstention and three absent.
It was a lacklustre performance by the Tories, who gave every impression of being beaten from the outset. Some fire was shown by Courtenay and Flewitt, but they still failed to land any telling blows.
Those who spoke in the budget debate: Woodley Lamb Moyies McMahon Aylen Courtenay J Garston Jarvis Ware-Lane Velmurugan Morgan Salter Nevin Ayling Holland Robinson Gilbert Wexham Norman Terry Anne Jones Chalk Habermel Flewitt Woodley
I expressed reservations about the Seaway Car Park development – this was an item named Action taken in accordance with Council Procedure 46. Whilst being assured that the road infrastructure in the vicinity was going to be addressed, I have my reservations.
I also spoke to Minute 560 Monitoring Officer’s Report. I am not sure why we need to have officers record attendance by councillors at meetings. I wondered whether reasons for absence would be noted, whether substitutions would be acknowledged, and whether it would be noted when councillors attended meetings for committees they were not members of. I also speculated whether this was being driven by the public spat in one of the groups in the chamber.
Minute 560 also included this: (a) The Monitoring Officer should send an advice note to all Members of the Council (including co-opted members) and Members of Leigh Town Council about blogging.
I asked two questions under Minute 588 Review of Shoebury Common Flood Defence Improvements. Prior to the meeting we were given an explanatory note – I guess prompted by my interventions in Place Scrutiny Committee; this posed more questions than it answered.
I asked: Which set of figures are we to believe – which set do we use in reaching our collective decision. I am puzzled that we see it fit to deliver less detail to members today (via Mott MacDonald) than was considered necessary in 2013 (via Black & Veatch).
I further asked: How can we be sure that we will not face a different set of figures in a year or two’s time?
In my comments I noted that I considered the portfolio replies less than satisfying. I still fail to fully comprehend how we can be expected to make a judgement with the conflicting data given to us. To my surprise I received support from unexpected quarters – Cllrs Courtenay and Lamb.
One could be forgiven for believing that those tasked with producing these reports are exhibiting their gymnastic prowess in seeking to satisfy whichever administration is paying the piper.
I was pleased to be able to second Cllr Nevin’s motion: This Council resolves to support Action Aid’s campaign TOWNS AGAINST TAX DODGING, for tax justice.
Agenda item 29 removed Cllr Waterworth from all his committee posts – this at the behest of the UKIP Group. I say UKIP group, but since the remaining four are suspended by their national party they are in the strange positions of being recognised by SBC as the UKIP Group, but by no-one else. Waterworth is not in the UKIP Group, and yet is the only Southend councillor still able to describe himself as ‘UKIP’!