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Offline Rochelle

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Re: 7th October - Full Council
« Reply #60 on: October 08, 2010, 08:18:43 AM »
Morning Muggins,
Attending last night's meeting has rendered my cold even worse so since I'll be fit for nothing today beyond working on the computer I may as well start as I mean to go on and give you my impressions...
Yes the meeting was orderly, Mr Mayor going out of his way to be polite to the members of the public who were in attendance.
There was a fairly small but very well behaved demonstration beforehand which hardly warranted the considerable police presence. The Labour group took part, the Libdems went straight in I think and I only saw one Conservative go in by the front door (Russell Howard) though I may have missed some.
Public questions produced nothing of substance.
The One Step Ahead petition went ahead and Cllr Mallinson assured the petitioners that there were no plans to close the facility.
The budget debate was fairly fruitless, though of course that's just my opinion, a remark made at the end of the meeting suggested to me that the Conservatives had little interest in the debate, and would happily have just gone to the vote, though again, that's just my interpretation, others may see it differently.
I did get to make my maiden speech, ha ha, I didn't really want to, being full of cold, drugged up to the eyeballs and croaky, still it's done now and next time I shall attempt more coherence and relevance! I was glad to have had the chance to have my vote against recorded though.
Andy Harrison called for a named vote, which I believe we would have done if he hadn't. Labour, Libdems, Steve Wakefield voted against, all Conservatives voted for.
Way too much party political sniping for my liking which I think hinders in-depth debate. Channelling Mo Mowlem... too many cocks on tables!
AsI say, I was pretty unwell and my hearing's not good on top of everything else so I may have missed, misinterpreted things, sure someone else can add to my report...step forward Chris!

Offline Steve Wakefield

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Re: 7th October - Full Council
« Reply #61 on: October 08, 2010, 09:10:42 AM »
I'll pop back soon after coffee and add my bit ::)

Coffee  :coffee: finished posted on here at 10.40hrs 8/10/10 and it is on my blog http://tinyurl.com/2uy6nkv in a simocast?

Over on Talkswindon a Thread is running on the Swindon Full Council Meeting of 7th October www.talkswindon.org and here is the thread in question http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php?topic=6444.new#new  I have reserved a spot on there and I am now going to post this blogpost into the reserved spot on TS, in reply to Rochelle Russell Labour Councillor, who made her maiden speech last night.


Morning Muggins,

"the Libdems went straight in I think"

The One Step Ahead petition went ahead and Cllr Mallinson assured the petitioners that there were no plans to close the facility.

The budget debate was fairly fruitless, though of course that's just my opinion, a remark made at the end of the meeting suggested to me that the Conservatives had little interest in the debate, and would happily have just gone to the vote, though again, that's just my interpretation, others may see it differently.I did get to make my maiden speech, ha ha, I didn't really want to, being full of cold, drugged up to the eyeballs and croaky, still it's done now and next time I shall attempt more coherence and relevance! I was glad to have had the chance to have my vote against recorded though.

Andy Harrison called for a named vote, which I believe we would have done if he hadn't. Labour, Libdems, Steve Wakefield voted against, all Conservatives voted for. I was pretty unwell and my hearing's not good on top of everything else so I may have missed, misinterpreted things, sure someone else can add to my report...step forward Chris!


Rochelle

I don't think you missed anything and or certainly did not miss, misinterpret very little in this brief snapshot of a rather underwhelming, and subdued meeting; lacking personality. It had the feel of a funeral about it for me glum looking councillors and worried members of the public and council staff. I think you have captured the brief facts of the meeting and all you have said is fair comment and like all of us who post here its our own opinion and perception, and there is nothing wrong with that.

After a decade of budgets being set in the chamber I heard the same rhetoric, I have heard many times before, only the faces of some councillors saying it had changed! Last evening's atmosphere was charged with anxiety and dread, that could clearly be felt at the demonstration. Yes it was pointed out by a former Labour Mayor that the Libdems were not in the demonstration but closeted somewhere inside maybe along with their new found friends.

Cllr Stan Pajack said during the meeting that, he supported the coalition, because of Cllr Montaut, funny I thought that the national Libdem Party supported the coalition and that at a conference in Birmingham its members voted overwhelmingly to conjoin coalese with the Tories for a 5 year coalition and last night Swindon's political conjoined political twins of conveience sent out mix messages as usual cllr Dave wood said zilch, :-X.  I think Rochelle he has spoken only one more time in the chamber than you, so don't feel bad about that as he is in his 2nd term and you just have over a 100 days in there! Cllr Harrison spoke after Cllr Pajack's seemingly adulatory oratory for the coalition and gave a diametrically opposed POV, about why the Libdems would not be voting for the budget, but then, is he not the fourth man in that group of 3? Cllr Wiltshire spoke in a sort of middle of the road view actually it made little sense to me that is unless you are a LibDem and understand that the party can be all things to all people at the same time. I await with anticipation that Bogomil ;) will be on here at some point to give the views of the libdems? O0

Cllr Mallinson, was clear that he will not be closing day centres, and I believe him as he has made sure that Walcot Library has not closed. However us let us be clear that Day Centres and Library successes are not measured by the amount of hours the doors are open, but what they achieve and deliver. Cllr Mallinson was very open last night as he has a very difficult and unpleasant job to do and lets not forget that he did explain to us that his department, has much waste in it over capacity, over pricing and overspending, to just mention a handful of the reasons he gave for cutting and a 2.4 million overspend. I was surprised to hear that his fellow ward councillor voted for the budget, as I recall at times their personal relationship as fellow ward cllrs was a tad teeny weeny bit troubled fraught. I am sure that Robert Buckland MP will be out canvanssing with them both this weekend at the first opportunity on how they have all saved Upham Road from wicked Libdem Tory coalition cuts!

Finally Rochelle the recorded vote and the comments from cllr Mark Edwards Cllr Harrison asked for a recorded vote, recorded votes need 7 members to stand and demand it. Libdems if I am not mistaken only have 3 +1 (in 2 wards) = 4 members or 1+3=4 members that is 3 short of 7. Was it a political move by Libdems so they could declare we called for it but no one would support our call for a recorded vote? Or had it been discussed with cllr Montaut? Some may say it was in the LibDem best interests to get the vote recorded for posterity due to their close association with the coalition government? Anyway Rochelle I am sure your own group had discussed this prior to the meeting?

The comments you refer to I think were made at the end by Cllr Mark Edwards I was outside the chamber but could hear clearly as the doors were open I did catch something about the 2 hours spent debating were wasted. That if it was correct saddened me as democracy is not something to be guillotined to suit the administration especially when the public are prepared to stay to the end!

Cllr Des Moffatt gave a very good speech, however I was enlightened by his comments that he made before it as he stood up, about Cllr Pajack on his behaviour and his comments. However I am sure that he can come on here and make his own observations known.

Cllr Bob Wright Challenged (Heckled) Cllr Edwards when he was speaking, which is most unlike Bob, again I am sure Bob will pop on here and post.

When Cllr Steve Allsop spoke I thought for one moment I had been transported back to a previous life when as a police officer I would have to move on ranting the end of the world is nigh placard wearing street speakers. Steve gave a cracker of a speech, but then sadly the measured impact of what he was articulating was lost in the rant. Scoring for me an own goal for Rod and his front bench band, maybe Steve will rant at the beginning of his speech next time? Again Steve can come on here and give his view. Cllr Greehalgh made a measured contribution last night to the debate and was one of the very few Tories to speak up from the front bench.

 The voting as Rochelle eluded to was straight down political lines the Tories in the chamber voted in unison for the budget. I am cynical and I hope that this hypothesis is not right, that the Tories trailed and or fed allowed speculation about day centre closures so that they could demonstrate that they had saved them and claim that the opposition were scaring people? As I say sometimes I find that I am a cynical politician and am sure that, that no such a thing would ever happen.

 Once again as I said last night I thank Cllr Peter Mallinson for listening and giving us all the re assurance that the Day centres identified/petitioned will not be closed.
All posts on this forum are my own opinion and do not represent the views of any council or any political party.  :banana:

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: 7th October - Full Council
« Reply #62 on: October 08, 2010, 09:11:33 AM »
I did get to make my maiden speech, ha ha, I didn't really want to, being full of cold, drugged up to the eyeballs and croaky, still it's done now and next time I shall attempt more coherence and relevance!

Well done  :)

Did you know?,  it's still a point of discussion whether Lib Dem Dave Wood has ever made a maiden speech and, if he has, whether it was the only time he's ever spoken in the chamber.

I'm sure Dave will set this straight, and others will still disagree with whatever he says  :)


Offline Martin Wicks

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Re: 7th October - Full Council
« Reply #63 on: October 08, 2010, 10:18:44 AM »
The demo was OK, given the early stage of the austerity drive. The Adver says 60 people. I think it was a few more than that. It was representative of the trades unions, councillors, some service users and community groups such as the Gym users, Parks & East Walcot Forum.

I have a copy of the speech by the parent of an attendee of One Step Ahead (which I will put on the Swindon TUC website later on). It was articulate and very moving and if the centre has never been under threat then I don't understand why the Toy Cabinet members looked so terribly uncomfortable when the guy was speaking!

It was good that the Liberals voted against the cuts but it would be even better if they criticised their leaders for giving cover to these 'small state' Conservatives.

I do not think the scale of the cuts across the whole public sector is yet appreciated by people. Not just the council. Our PFI hospital for instance is aiming to cut £45 million off of a budget of £192 million, with zero increase in funding over 3 years. If you factor in inflation over 3 years that would mean spending of something in the region of £147 million as compared to roughly £215 million if funding increased in line with inflation. This is a massive and unprecedented cut.

The Tory administration has looked very shaky of late, what with the last Council meeting, the resignation of Stephanie Exell, the differences within the group. It will not be easy to cut on the unprecedented scale that they are looking to do.

But on the national and the local level, what they are able to get away with depends on the extent to which opposition is mobilised. We need an ongoing campaign to defence our public services.

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: 7th October - Full Council
« Reply #64 on: October 08, 2010, 10:30:24 AM »
Firstly I would like to congratulate the Mayor on the way he conducted business last night, what a contrast to the last time out.  It is good to see that he has learnt his lesson and re established the honour of his position.  Well done!!

Anyway, the Tories were on their best behaviour although they could not hide their delight at poor old Derique's speech which was interrupted by problems with the speakers or was it the microphones?  This was all very convenient and the debate lost momentum interjected by some extraordinary partial rants by some Labour people.  The Tories just sat there and I noted from the gallery that one of their number spent the evening reading a magazine and another spent the time working on their laptop.  Presumably the debate was neither important or of interest to them.  I wonder what their constituents would say about it if they knew?

Councillor Mallinson did indeed make an undertaking that Upham Road would remain open but I only hope it will not be on a budget of £200 per month.  There is one thing keeping something open and another funding it properly.  As he is seeking re election and is rumoured to have already started his campaign I hope this situation will sustain beyond May 2011, only he knows his plans?

Mark Edwards used the word 'proposals' three times in his final speech. 

Now will someone please tell me the difference between proposals and cuts and why It is necessary to shave £5.3m off the budget when the Government has reduced our funding by a mere £1.4m? 

Will Mark Edwards please explain how this relates to his statement for his 2010/11 budget back in February when he said

‘This is a budget that marks our final promotion from the bottom division of poor performing councils to the cusp of being in the premier league of England’s best.

It is a budget that protects vital public services for the elderly and the vulnerable.

It is a budget that protects local residents.

It is a budget that protects staff; with fewer redundancies than many other councils are proposing.’

SO JUST WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MISSING £3.9M?

Is it Mark Edwards for not being able to add up, the Tories trying to persuade the people of Swindon to elect two Tory MP’s or was it incompetent financial management by the respective Lead Members?

Looks like all three to me!!

and guess who pays for it?
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Offline Chris Watts

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Re: 7th October - Full Council
« Reply #65 on: October 08, 2010, 05:23:19 PM »
Yes, a much better meeting, well done Mr Mayor and lead members. Very little heckling. Respect and consideration shown to the public. That must of hurt ::)

Agenda Item 6: Petition: Retention of services at One Step Ahead

An impassioned petition was delivered by the manager of One Step Ahead and one of their volunteers. It should be noted that the Mayor did not hold them to a time limit although he was relatively strict on time with members.

Cllr Mallinson assured us that there are no plans to close the One Step Ahead facility. The facility would be looked at to see if the service could be delivered differently but was quick to point out that this would be in consultation with One Step.

Agenda Item 7: Revised Budget

To give you a flavour, Cllr Edwards soundbites:

Labour's overspending have brought us to this
IMF commend Tory approach
zero star council to 2 star council
Scale of cutbacks still not clear
Disgraceful scaremongering from opposition
Budget is right for Swindon and will deliver on all obligations
Modernise delivery with early intervention
Bold steps required
Thanks to employees who will lose jobs
Back office efficiencies will not work alone
3rd of director already let go since 2008
Only a 54% council tax increase would save all jobs
Constructive dialogue required
One Swindon to underpin cuts
No apology, tough now and tough in the future
Smaller, leaner, more effective
Yada Yada Yada ( I suspect i will just cut and paste this in my next submission)

Cllr Montaut Soundbites

Not Labour priorities
Politicised by accusing previous national government

It is a panic budget
Poor getting hit unfairly while bankers still receive large bonuses
The cuts rip the heart out of the community
Frustrated about thoughtless cuts
Cuts will damage local and national growth
Back to Thatcher days
Two tier system for haves and have nots
Steph Excel new what was happening
These cuts make Thatcher look tame
Tories are sucking the soul out of the town
Labour will take back council

Cllr Montaut challenged the administration to explain as to why only now are they able to make cuts without affecting services and not before and explain the wasted millions. He stated that labour will take back the council and will ensure that money is clued to front line services.

Cllr Stan Pajak
I may have mis-understood but i think that Cllr Pajak, in a very short speech blamed the last labour government, but at the same time was concerned that they would be perceived as Tory coalition lapdogs and would therefore vote against the budget to prove that a they are of there own mind in defiance of the national party. Not much else said.

Cllr Des Moffatt
Cllr Moffatt described the budget as floored. He pointed to the £2.4M deficit from the last budget that has nothing to do with actions of former Government. Also the folly of attempting a £3.2M underspend for the purpose of political dogma in manipulating the message to the population of Swindon that this was unavoidable.

Cllr Nick Martin
Cllr Martin was his usual considered self, delivering a measured speech. He highlighted that the administration intend to deliver 0% council tax rises for the next three years. :crazy2:

Cllr Fay Howard
Sorry Fay, you spoke so quickly I could not take notes.

Cllr Grant
Cllr Grant offered the council 1 hour a week voluntary service in the Walcot library if the library consultants would also work free of charge in the spirit of Cameron's Big Society. The point he was making is that: not only are the poor and vulnerable being shat on the most, but they are the ones expected to step up and work for nothing in the Utopian Big Society.

From here on in, it was a bit of the same old same old...
Cllr Allsop delivery was extremely passionate in stating that the poor are baring the brunt.
When Cllr Wiltshire stood up there was a mumble around the chamber of "anyone know who he is?" :)
Cllr Harrison took some of the Conservative criticism of labour and visa versa, mashed it up in to a speech, and had a pop at both parties. He is normally better that that, but in fairness,  the topic had been done to death by the time he spoke.
 O0 to Rochelle on your maiden speech, i hope you are feeling better.

Finally, our man "the independent Councillor" stood up. He question the administration as to why, earlier in the proceedings, they had eulogised about how they had pulled this council up from a 0 star rating to a 2 star rating with much auditor acclaim and then took the contradictory stance that they can make saving without affecting services by cutting out waste, inefficiencies, excess staff whilst working smarter. Surely this means that the council, by their own admission, had been running inefficiently and had been overstaffed for the last four years. He went on to suggest that perhaps the departments were overstaffed in order to obtain the coveted 2 stars. Tick box democracy. This was not directly answered by the administration.

I hope this gives you a flavour of proceedings.
 
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Offline Chris Watts

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Re: 7th October - Full Council
« Reply #66 on: October 08, 2010, 05:24:16 PM »
Public Questions:

1. Mr Mayor, do you agree that, when Earlier this year the current administration returned a budget with a £2.4M hole by not adequately increasing council tax , conveniently just before a general election, and in addition to this, wasting the best part of £2M on vanity projects, that at no point did it dawn on the administration that these self serving actions have only served to exasperate the current budget challenges that face this council and that these said actions directly equates to additional job loses that may not have been required if a more responsible fiscal approach had been taken?

Cllr Edwards answered this in a calm and measured way. He disagreed that there was £2.4M hole in the current budget and invited me to meet with him to discuss. Page 24 of the agenda under the column forecast variants shows a total variant of £2,404,000.  I think in my question i should have replace the word hole with variant.

2. Mr Mayor, Do you agree that when the leader of the council stated in the scrutiny committee meeting that he was happy to be judged and stand by the  success or failure of the WiFi project that he should be true to his word and stand down with immediate effect, as the Wifi Project, as expected, has been an abject failure against all stated business objectives and revised targets.

The leader explained that WiFi had not been a failure and was moving forward. He then challenged me to define failure. I responded by stating that in a correspondence that i received from the council in January 2010 stated the business plan included borough coverage completed by April 2010 with 3500 paying customer and 1000 paying business by the end of year 1. The leader explained that there is expressions of interest from many councils and investors. That's ok then. The Leader did not resign.

3. Mr Mayor, would you also agree that when cllr Perkins admonished cllr Dempsey, at the last council meeting, for putting forward a motion that this administration had been less that successful with regards to the regeneration of the town, with Cllr Perkins stating that such a motion damages the towns reputation with the business sector, Is it not the case that when this administration not only went to the local press, but the national press, international press, radio and TV,  with its embarrassingly unrealistic plan to be the first to supply free wifi to the borough by April 2010 that this in fact damages the towns reputation in the business sector to a far greater degree making the town a laughing stock on a global scale? Would you agree that Cllr Perkins need to reflect on this and gain a better perspective?

Many thanks to Poemogram for fielding this question for me, (modified from above) as I had used my allotment. I would like to apologise to Cllr Dempsey, as by posing this question I gave Cllr Perkins the platform to attack his motion once again whilst doing his best to avoid the real crux of the question. When finally pressed for an answer he disagreed that global humiliation did more damage to the town's reputation than Cllr Dempsey's comments on the town degeneration.
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: 7th October - Full Council
« Reply #67 on: October 08, 2010, 06:36:36 PM »
Public Questions:

1. Mr Mayor, do you agree that, when Earlier this year the current administration returned a budget with a £2.4M hole by not adequately increasing council tax , conveniently just before a general election, and in addition to this, wasting the best part of £2M on vanity projects, that at no point did it dawn on the administration that these self serving actions have only served to exasperate the current budget challenges that face this council and that these said actions directly equates to additional job loses that may not have been required if a more responsible fiscal approach had been taken?

Cllr Edwards answered this in a calm and measured way. He disagreed that there was £2.4M hole in the current budget and invited me to meet with him to discuss. Page 24 of the agenda under the column forecast variants shows a total variant of £2,404,000.  I think in my question i should have replace the word hole with variant.

I expect Bluh's buttockls clenched spasmodically during this question as, historically, this is usually where Cllr Michael Dickinson would leap to his feet ans shout:

Quote
"Ha, you're wrong, it's not £2.4 million hole in the budget, it's closer to £4 million!"

Good questions though.

Always interesting to see Bluh repeating the same, (imho), political lies. 

Offline Chav

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Re: 7th October - Full Council
« Reply #68 on: October 08, 2010, 08:44:14 PM »
Mr W, I would like to know what you made of it all !
Did you question anyone while you were there ?
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