Saturday, 6 March 2010

Grandstanding to an empty Grandstand.

Last week we concluded the council tax setting for Sefton. The cabinet met in the morning and agreed to send the budget which we have worked steadily through over the last five months to full council that evening. At that stage we had every expectation that we were on course for an all party agreement for a rise for Sefton's services of 2.1%.

I had a long standing meeting with the Chief Exec booked for 5.30pm but at the last meeting it was delayed as the Labour Leader went into see her-there was, I was told by a flustered officer, 'a crisis'. Well the crisis turned out to be no more than Cllr Dowd's desire to play to the gallery. The Sefton constitution has a clear procedure for challenging decisions made by the cabinet. Backbench councillors can 'call in' an item and it is referred to an Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Backbenchers can then send it back to cabinet for further consideration along with their recommendations. This 'recall' procedure is in our constitution to allow the cabinet decisions to be challenged and to allow backbenchers to make recommendations back to cabinet.
Lib Dems have used this recall procedure to challenge the cabinet decision to abandon a search for temporary library premises. (Oh, and just in case the Tories are foolish enough to say that they have never voted against the Library, I have the email which confirms that after Conservatives and Labour combined to vote out the proposal I put to Cabinet the officers stopped looking for sites. It was only because of the Lib Dem 'call in' that the show got back on the road. Cllr Dowd confirmed this on Thursday night when he accused the Tories of having done a U Turn-he conveniently forgot that he had done one too as he supported my motion in Cabinet 6 hours earlier to go ahead with moving the Library to the Visiter offices)
Anyway back to the council tax setting. Over several months the cabinet have voted on a series of options. We have disagreed. Mrs Porter and Mrs Parry wanted to axe the grant to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Labour backed us in defeating that proposal and the same voting went with other attempts the Tories made to cut Arts funding (including on one occasion wanting to refuse a grant someone else was providing for art-again if they deny it I have the evidence. We wanted more drastic cuts in the capital programme as because the cost of repayment in 2011 onwards are so big that we fear in a much tighter financial time more essential projects will need be cut to accomadate them. We lost. Some you call in, some you don't. Labour called in none.
Come full council, the eleventh hour, and all of a sudden Labour wanted to re-visit the cabinet decisions. They had failed to use the provisions in the constitution and therefore had to suspend our procedures to introduce there amendment which should have fallen because you can't introduce issues within six months of a decision except by the agreed call in p[provision.
Now we are not daft. Cllr Dowd did this so that he could rant and rave and play to his troops. In fact he worked himself up into such a froth of indignation that I began to worry about the impact on his health.
I was most amused when he attacked us for calling in the 'wrecking' decision on the Library. We had behaved constitutionally and he was castigating us, he was acting outwith the constitution and yet somehow felt he had some moral superiority
Most folk knew what was going on. Labour might have to select a candidate for Bootle at the last minute and Dowd-it is believed-wants to be the man and was just trying to impress the troops.
Bobby Brennan believed every word his leader uttered.
We all stood firm, after all if the deal had been unpicked Mrs Parry might have been moving more money for trees in Blundelsands or superior rest homes for the gold fish evicted from the town hall pond. It was all done to put the spot light on Cllr Dowd. the problem for him was that nobody-other that Bobby Brennan- was impressed.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I am happy to address most contributions, even the drunken ones if they are coherent, but I am not going to engage with negative sniping from those who do not have the guts to add their names or a consistent on-line identity to their comments. Such postings will not be published.

Anonymous comments with a constructive contribution to make to the discussion, even if it is critical will continue to be posted. Libellous comments or remarks I think may be libellous will not be published.

I will also not tolerate personation so please do not add comments in the name of real people unless you are that person. If you do not like these rules then start your own blog.

Oh, and if you persist in repeating yourself despite the fact I have addressed your point I may get bored and reject your comment.

The views expressed in comments are those of the poster, not me.