Saturday, May 21, 2011
It may return in the future, but for now my blog is closed for business.
Friday, January 21, 2011
First Full Council of this year of years, when the Tory-lead coalition Government - with their loyal Tory friends at County Hall - will do so much damage to our Island through an entirely and unnecessarily rushed public services cuts programme.
And we saw a massive row, doggedly initiated and pursued by me, over the way in which a Tory leadership motion supportive of the destructive cuts programme was railroaded through. In a unique interpretation of our Constitution and the general rules of debate by officers an amendment to the motion from independent Cllr Bacon was accepted by the leadership, put to the vote, agreed (with I believe only Reg Barry (LD) and I against) - and then debate was stopped, with very few (including me) having yet said a word (though I had indicated my wish to speak), and certainly none against.............
We were told when I protested that the substantive motion still needed to be debated, that once a motion is successfully amended that means the substantive motion is also agreed. That is the first I (or many others) have ever heard that interpretation in 35 years of public debating. I have since checked the Constitution and will be taking this illegal and unconstitutional decision further. A total and utter disgrace that fills with me zero confidence in the constitutional advice issued to the Council Chairman.
Other items discussed were:- a motion from Cllr Bacon that tried to improve the relationship between the IW Council and town and parish councils - defeated by Tory councillors; overwhelming agreement to the Independent Remuneration Panel's recommendations on councillor allowances for a 0% increase; some tinkering with the entirely irrelevant scrutiny arrangements for this Council.
At the start of the meeting the IW Stop the Cuts Alliance (which I entirely support) were present in good numbers to ask public questions, but the 15 minutes allowed for such questions was strictly adhered to on this occasion allowing just one written question and three oral questions to be dealt with.
Meeting finished after 3 hours leaving me with a very bad taste in my mouth..........
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Anyway as I said Full Council last night. As I had decided to give myself my first break for 18 months from submitting a Motion the agenda was very brief. An uncontentious change to financial standing orders and then questions of Cabinet members. These were taken full advantage of primarily by the usual suspects - myself, Barry, Howe, Welsford....
From my questions we learnt that the Council leadership strongly opposes domestic violence whilst not being prepared to properly support the IW Womens Refuge - hypocrites ! I also secured commitments for maximum HR support for Council staff who end up being made redundant in the next few months. And councillors may get the opportunity to ask NHS Trust people why the IW volunteered to be a pilot for issuing contraceptives for 13 year olds.
We then finished at 7.25pm and we all headed home - no free Xmas drink/buffet with the Chairman this year for the rest of them. Recognition of hard times........
Friday, October 22, 2010
Another 4 weeks passes by and we were back at Full Council on Wednesday evening. An evening that will probably go down in history as the end of the day when the Tory/Liberal coalition government agreed to wreck our economy and destroy the decent society we have aspired to since 1940.
So in that context our Council meeting was pretty small beer as everyone gets their heads around what government has proposed for local government over the next 4 years.
We started off with a minutes silence on the death that day of Canon Jim Buckett - a wonderful man even if we did not share a belief . Next was my motion on the Council's 'One Island' magazine, where I wanted to reduce its publication to twice per year rather than 10. The Tories really threw the kitchen sink at me to defeat this motion, demonstrating as ever how much they seem to fear me.......At the end my motion was defeated with 8 votes in favour (me, the 3 LibDems present and 4 Independents) and all the Tories and 2 Independents against.
Independent Wayne Whittle was then elected as the third Chairman of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee of this Council in just 16 months after Jonathan Bacon's resignation. Good luck to him, but I'm afraid luck won't help him get this Council to allow proper scrutiny.
Next was a leadership proposal to move meeting times for Scrutiny Committee/Panels to 5pm rather than 6pm. On this I was entirely isolated with everyone in favour of effectively making it difficult for most people to observe these meetings and me against. C'est la difference.
We then all agreed a new Corporate Parenting Policy for looked after children. Everyone was on their best behaviour and no one mentioned the elephant in the room....our record as a Council as corporate parents hasn't been good enough to date.
And that was about it. Questions to Cabinet members took up the last hour or so, but it all felt a bit flat. The calm before the storm as people begin to realise what the public service cuts really mean to them ???????
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
By the time I got onto my anti-VAT increase motion I felt quite low key. Of course I argued my case that it unfairly penalises pensioners and the low paid far more than the better-off, then received support from numerous independents, and then listened to Cabinet members - though not backbench Tories - blame everything since the 'fall of man' on the last Labour government ! As expected my motion was lost by 23 votes (all 21 Tories present and 2 independents) to 7 (myself and 6 independents), with 5 abstentions - one independent and all four LibDems. No surprise there then as their 'Tory VAT bombshell' from prior to the general election becomes settled LibDem policy. Vote Liberal, get the Tories..........don't forget Islanders........
We then moved onto the Tory proposals for starting to cut back the budget for this year and the next 4 years. The Student Rider abolition is one facet of these savage and draconian cuts, but they are also targeting vulnerable people, young people in need, bus users, and various other groups. All part of the new ConDem governments determination to unnecessarily reduce the national budget deficit in just 5 years, putting our entire economy at risk.
As usual it seems these days, all of this is my fault as the Council leadership try to decide who is the bigger bogey man on the island - me or Southern Vectis.
After the debate a named vote approved the Cabinet cuts proposals, including abolition of the Student Rider, by 20 votes to 11:- all 20 Tories still present in favour, all opposition councillors still present against - including this time the 2 LibDems still in the room. Strange - but welcome......
Meeting then concluded at 10pm after 4 roller-coaster hours.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Lots of deep regret and sighing at what they will have to do over the next 4 years, but frankly it felt to me like they were enjoying themselves. Tories - and some in the Lib Dems, like Clegg - have always wanted an excuse to reduce the public sector, and this government is more intent on that policy than even the dreaded Thatcher and her ilk. So much for voting Liberal to keep the Tories out..........what we have got is Conservatism with knobs on ! There is no doubt that there has to be some level of cuts to start to address the national budget deficit (as the last government detailed), but I get the feeling that much of what will happen under this unelected government is almost gratuitous in its savagery.
At the meeting the Lib Dem group leader was invited by one Tory Cabinet member to sign his group up to the Tory Council cuts agenda, but sadly the said gentleman failed to seize the opportunity to distance himself and his local party from the Coalition Government. Hm......
So now we have a Cabinet paper going to Full Council next week that will commence the the four-year nightmare. Of course I will oppose it and would expect some of the independents to do the same. And hopefully the 4 Lib Dems ?
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
At the IW Council Cabinet next week will begin the local process of planning for the savage and draconian cuts to public services demanded by the new Conservative-Liberal coalition government. A government elected by no one and without a popular mandate for the sorts of cuts to our services we will see over the next 5 years.
That is my view in response to the published Budget Review paper going to the Council Cabinet on Tuesday next week:
I accept that of course the national deficit needs to be reduced and the last Labour government had a strategy to reduce the deficit significantly over the next 5 years. However, the Con-Dem coalition government is determined to clear the deficit entirely - run up by shoring up the failing banking sector - within just 5 years, with cuts in public services of at least 25% if not more. Cuts at a level that were not mentioned in either of their election manifestos.
25% cuts would translate for the IW Council (according to their review) to at least £5.5million of cuts, probably more, in each of the next 4 budget years. Inevitably hurting vulnerable people the most, as we have already seen this year, and slashing Council jobs at a time when we need people in employment to kickstart the local economy.
The Review paper going to next week's Cabinet further identifies:
1. Further budget pressures THIS year - before the government axe fully falls - of £6.5million, especially in Adult Care services and Children's Services, and in the failure to identify £3m of savings budgeted for this year prior to the General Election.
2. £2.19m of early cutbacks by the new government on specific grants this year - including £470k for road safety schemes.
3. The increase in VAT to 20% as having 'limited impact on local authorities' - who unlike low-paid local people can claim it back.
As the only political councillor at County Hall currently openly opposing this coalition government I am appalled to imagine what is likely to happen locally over the next 5 years of cutting public services. I believe many Islanders will feel the same and I am hopeful that many will come together in the weeks and months ahead to campaign locally and nationally against these cuts.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
George Osborne today said his top priority is cutting the deficit. But in order to get the deficit down, you need to keep economic growth up and you need to keep unemployment down. You don’t get borrowing down by pulling the plug on support for business, throwing people out of work and stifling economic growth.
The Chancellor delivered a budget that will throw people out of work, hold back economic growth and damage the public services we all rely on – and increased VAT from 17.5% to 20%, so that higher prices will be paid in the shops by everyone, from pensioners to the unemployed
The Tories’ cuts are unfair to families and older people: cuts to the disability living allowance, cuts to help for the jobless, cuts to tax credits, cutting back free school meals, and cuts to Child Benefit, which they have frozen for the next three years.
What the country needed was a Budget to support economic growth, protect jobs and cut the deficit fairly. Instead the Tories gave us a reckless Budget that pulls the rug out from under the recovery.
And they couldn’t have done it without the support of the Lib Dems, who have let down everyone who voted for them in the election just a few weeks ago.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Full Council last Wednesday. Many absences - 10 - 25% of the Council. Kicked off with loads of questions about Northwood House, which the Council appear to have decided to withdraw from entirely.
My Motion seeking for a 3rd time to get the Council to reduce its carbon emissions by 10%, thus saving up to £410k, to then be used on services for vulnerable people, was then discussed. I tried to tell the Tories that contrary to their recent local Members Newsletter there isn't a Tory government and that the national Tory leadership have signed up to some decent things in the Con-Dem Coalition - like a 10% reduction in carbon emissions. But they don't like to listen to me !!! Because they really don't want to know.......
Instead they claim they are making ‘planned and sensible’ carbon reductions (Cllr Giles, Tory), presumably unlike the coalition Con-Dem government in which his party has signed up to 10%. And they ‘can’t save any more’ on emissions (again Cllr Giles). Welcome to my world, where Cameron & Clegg’s cosiness is ignored at local level.
So, once again I was defeated by 18 (all Tory) votes to 8 (me, the 3 LibDems present, and 4 independents), with 3 abstentions (including 2 brave Tories - Webster and Wyatt-Millington).
One thing is increasingly clear - local LibDems are not comfortable with the coalition there leadership has signed up to, just as local Tories are just going to ignore it's more 'progressive' elements...........
After that we had the Standards Committee Annual Report, which only I did not support, as I have little faith in the local process. And then agreement of a new scheme to deal with Petitions - a legacy of the last government.
Finally I asked a question of the Council Leader about whether he could guarantee that Years 6, 7 & 8 in Middle Schools from September will get the full breadth of the curriculum delivered to them. He gave that guarantee...........
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
A wonderful letter in The Guardian today,
"Let me just make sure I've got this right. First of all, a bunch of bankers lose unimaginable amounts of our money by making bets on a bunch of dodgy mortgages. Eventually the banks realise the bets are based on worthless assets, and that technically they are bankrupt.
The government bails them out with billions of pounds, transferring the debt to the public sector. The bankers, full of gratitude, pay themselves multimillion-pound bonuses which they invest in such a way as to pay as little tax as possible.
We express our anger by voting out the government and replacing it with a new one, which promptly blames the debt on the profligate spending of its predecessor, and tells us that the only solution is to cut public services. Civil servants lose their jobs, unemployment rises, libraries are closed, support services for the very poor, the dispossessed and the desperate disappear. Those who caused this mess in the first place get away with it, and are probably already planning the next disaster.
Are we really that gullible?
Matt Nicholson, Bristol"
Says it all really.
Monday, May 31, 2010
Another week passes before I get around to posting again. All these elections get in the way. Hopefully we will now have a break for at least a couple of months.....
I was very disappointed that we couldn't manage to squeeze the LibDems enough in the Ryde South by-election to get Deborah Gardiner back on the IW Council. Still it was a good performance and we saw the LD drop from first to 3rd as the Tories secured another group member. Onwards on my own for a little longer......
Yesterday's and today's national media are increasingly sickening as they all bemoan the loss of the LibDem expenses fiddler who had to resign from the Cabinet after just 18 days. The holier than thou attitude of Clegg prior to the election (where his party came third) is now clearly to be seen as total hypocrisy. When the expenses scandal first arose the Liberals weren't really looked at that closely. Now they will be and I anticipate further revelations.
Finally elections to Newport Parish Council saw my partner Mary re-elected to join me and two other Labour supporters as a continuing influential bloc in all Newport matters. I won't be Chair from 14 June due to standing orders restrictions to a two-year term, but I am sure we will have a responsible successor. Not one who would fritter money on palatial parish offices......