Monday 9 December 2013

Committee rejects reduction in council meetings

At the end of last month I mentioned a report to be discussed by the Democratic Services committee. It related to how the Democratic Services office might be affected by the loss of 0.6 staff, which is currently a vacant post anyway.

The webcasting pilot was cited as an enormous strain on resources and, in so many words, suggests that this transparency nonsense should come to an end.

The minutes have now been published and the reference to webcasting is again is very negative. It does not record whether the committee made any comment or not.

The minutes also state that the continuation of the webcasting is something which will need to be discussed by councillors as there's nothing earmarked in the budget to carry on after the pilot, let alone widen it to other meetings.

I would suggest that the desire to discontinue the webcast has very little to do with finances.

After all, the council are considering replacing councillors' laptops with iPads at the moment which won't come cheap and the reductions proposed to the 'refreshment' budget, and the reduction of official cars from two to one (over three years) begs the question as to why Democratic Services has a refreshment budget in the first place..and two 'official' cars? Who knew?

And if the 'split' with the Scarlets over the Marstons' deal had been a little more equitable there'd have been enough to continue not only webcasting but keep us in lollipop ladies for the next ten years. Let's not forget either the cost of the ongoing legal advice over the two 'unlawful' payments.

As I have said there are proposals being put forward to change the format of full council meetings; committee reports will not be on the agenda and instead of debate and discussion, the chamber will be subjected to corporate presentations of the kind seen last month from BT and this month's offering from Scarlets Regional Ltd.

According to the report, stamping out the last remnants of democracy will contribute to the 'efficiency agenda'. If that wasn't disingenuous enough, the minutes refer to the agenda change as a 'modernising' proposal.

There is no recorded comment from the committee with regards the new style agendas but at least the additional 'efficiency' proposal to reduce the number and frequency of council and committee meetings, was rejected by the committee;

UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED TO RECOMMEND TO COUNCIL that there should be no reduction in the frequency of Council and Committee meetings.

Well, that's something I suppose.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised they bother with the charade at all. The meetings are "rigged" by the officers deciding the agendas beforehand, resisting any councillors' suggestions and if anyone says anything they don't agree with it gets lost in the write up. I expect the Exec Board couldn't get rid of more meetings as the old codgers like their little outings? As well as the expenses.