Friday, 13 November 2009

a series of curious incidents

When I arrived at Cabinet yesterday for the important debate about Southport Library I encountered a number of unfortunate incidences.

  • Why were we meeting in Bootle?

There was only one real issue on the agenda-Southport Library and this was a special meeting called to decide on that matter. It was not a scheduled meeting. Why wasn't in held in Southport where local people could have attended. I venture to suggest that the decision may have been different

  • Why were the normal democratic safeguards waived?

Decisions made by cabinet can be 'recalled' by other councillors if they think cabinet has got it wrong or feel that not all the information was available. This process was waived on this item

  • The request to waive the 'recall' was presented in the name of the Leader of the Council

Politely but unequivocally the Leader, Cllr Robertson, made it clear that he knew nothing at all about this request and had not sanctioned it

  • Speed was the reason given for waiving the recall 'procedure'

This is not true. In the debate that followed my challenge to this manoeuvre the Labour Leader, Cllr Dowd, readily agreed with me that though there were matters of urgency concerning agreeing the Cultural Centre redevelopment(the money has to be spent against a tight timetable or we loose it) those considerations of urgency did not apply to the idea of a temporary Library

  • Why did the officers report say that there was not a consensus amongst the Southport Councillors?

Southport has 21 councillors. Two thirds of them have declared in favour of the temporary Library going to the market hall. As Mrs Parry (The Tory Leader) helpfully explained during the public session of yesterday's cabinet meeting (Councillor Tattersall no doubt has a verbatim note) there was an informal briefing to Southport councillors after that meeting the Chair asked if they wanted to vote to pass on their views to cabinet. Of those present 12 voted for the temporary Library and one against. The others dithered and did not vote.

How the officers turned that into 'Southport Councillors not having a consensus' is beyond my comprehension. But I think it is revealing. It's the sort of moment when if Freud had been present he would have sat back in his chair, pushed his spectacles up his nose and steepled his fingers together.....

  • Why was there no money set aside in the original plan for a temporary Library?

I now discover that the circa £200 000 or what ever the revenue costs are for the existing Cultural centre complex has been set aside to maintain the Arts programme at or venues ie Crosby Civic Hall. Not a lot of use to Southport, why was none of this earmarked for an adequate temporary facility?


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