Full council 27th Jan 2011

What an extraordinary meeting last Thursday’s council meeting was… There were no high-stakes votes on budgets, the next Mayor or anything like that. But public questions and declaratory motions draw out some extraordinary outbursts.

If you want to know why the webcast is not available yet, and why the council HQ King’s House is buzzing with gossip, then this Argus report fills in the details!

I mightily enjoyed a public question by Chris Hawtree querying whether our city could become like Hove, North Dakota, USA (population: 2) if we didn’t deal robustly with the cuts. Even the Tories couldn’t keep straight faces as the parallels were drawn by Mr Hawtree.

In written questions I continued to press on open licensing of council data and also raised a question about how the council ensures premises let to clubs really are only used by clubs.

There was some posturing by all parties that night with Labour trumpeting on the Education Maintenance Allowance and School Sports Partnerships, Tories on Housing and Transport and Greens on Post Office closures and the local government settlement. Labour shadow ministers have confirmed that they too would cut local government funds — so if they wouldn’t cut the EMA and Sports Partnerships, what would Labour have cut? Clearly they’re not going to say so they can try to bank political capital on opposing every cut under the sun.

At the least minute Tories backed out of their Transport motion (which was rather silly in the first place) when they realised the opposition parties were going to amend it to bits. Their housing motion unleashed the kind of petty point scoring and ancient history lessons that makes me want to disappear under my seat. Cllr Bob Carden delivered on the EMA what I think was the speech of the night , reflecting on how he had once been unable to send his daughter to college whilst he was laid up at home with a broken leg, unable to work. A personal message, delivered simply and with heart. Cllr Carden doesn’t speak often in full council, but that was a keeper.

I had a go at the administration for failing to open up the budget process, unlike most councils which involve members of all parties in the budget detail from a much earlier stage in the process.

If I recall correctly all motions were passed (apart from the Tory transport one which they withdrew), but let’s hope the webcast comes online so we can watch the best bits!

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