Author Topic: View from the cheap seats: Cabinet Meeting 21st July 2010  (Read 5117 times)

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Offline Chris Watts

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View from the cheap seats: Cabinet Meeting 21st July 2010
« on: July 22, 2010, 01:57:39 AM »
Public Questions

The first questioners submitted questions that fell into the remit of Cllr Geenhalgh. As I sat, pen in hand, waiting for a repeat performance from Cllr Greenhalgh to rival last weeks full council meeting, http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php?topic=6110.0 ,  I am pleased to note a marked improvement. Cllr Greenhalgh gave full and frank answers, engaged the questioner and even looked the questioner in the eye once or twice. A much improved performance. (Never fear though,  PG makes up for it later.)

Another questioner from Wroughton, questioned the impending decision of the council to withhold the funds for 5 pieces of play equipment, stating that the council was breaking a promise and that it was unfair to withdraw at this point. Cllr Williams responded by stating that due to the situation that the council finds itself in regarding the reduction in funding from Central Government that regrettably Wroughton would have to bear the brunt of this cut as central government had stated its intention to claw back any unallocated funds from the previously ring-fenced pot of cash for this purpose. (It should be noted that at no point did Cllr Williams make reference to the previous government or Labour Made Recession or that it was all Gordon Browns fault etc. Again, compared to last weeks Full Council meeting this made a welcome departure from the norm.)

(Could it be that Cllr Bluh has put Cllr Greenhalgh on a leash since last week? Are the Cabinet taking Cllr Bawdens advice and concentrating on the matters in hand whilst dispensing with the knockabout politics of who caused the recession and deficit? It was looking promising.)

Additional Item: (It's a Doozy)

Cllr Greenhalgh made a statement to the meeting regarding the lead story in the Swindon Advertiser, who had the temerity the churn a Daily Mail published story, that suggested the council were actively rummaging through wheely bins to ensure the good people of Swindon are recycling. Cllr Greenhalgh described the local rag as a “disgrace” publishing this “travesty of the truth” and accusing the Advertiser of being “Not Fair” or “Balanced”. Cllr Greenhalgh went on to say that “If he [Dave king] had the balls, the editor should come down to the civic and explain himself”. Effectively Cllr Greenhalgh had just 'called-out' Dave King. Priceless. Council workers should be on notice to look out for fisticuffs at dawn in the car park. (Personally, if I was Dave King,  I would send Charlie Morgan in my place. She wrote it.)
Although fully agreeing with his sentiments, Cllr Bluh cautioned Cllr Greenhalgh on his use of language and the Borough Solicitor asked for the offending portion of the statement to be removed from the minutes.  Cllr Greenhalgh asked for clarification of the offending word and on being informed that it was “balls”, he offered up “cahones” as an alternative. This also was rejected by the Borough Solicitor.

Agenda Item 5: Revenue Budget 2010/11 – 2013/14

Cllr Edwards, as expected, lead this Item. Once again, there was no reference to the previous government etc. in his statement. The main points were that:

1.Although the revenue grant reduction is £1.4M the council will need to make cuts of £4.4m across the board this year in order to ease further cuts that would be required next year.
2.It is expected that there could be up to 1000 redundancies within SBC over the next few years.
3.There is no intention to raise council tax

Cllr Montaut asked for clarification if it was completely necessary to cut the additional £3M from the budget this year. Cllr Edwards responded that there was no choice.

Cllr Montaut also suggested that the other political groups should be included in constructive consultation regarding the cuts at which  Cllr Greenhalgh stated “that would be a first”. This was followed quickly by a stern “Peter” from mummy Cllr Bluh.

Cllr Harrison suggested that the cuts in car parking charges be reconsidered as this would amount to £600K. (That did not go down well.) He also questioned had the cabinet taken into consideration the additional costs to the council services of having an additional 1000 people out of work.

Cllr Bluh summed up this agenda item stating that "we have not seen the worst of this" and that, because of the nature of the structural deficit, it should be noted that these are permanent cuts, "a fact that seems to have escaped most". He also stated that if all goes well with these austerity measure we may see a return to normal service between 2032 and 2035.  (Remarkably, Still no reference to previous Government.)

Cllr Montaut earlier had made reference to the route of the problem being the banking crisis. As you can imagine, this was a red rag to a Greenhalgh who had stewed on this point and he could keep it in no more. Cllr Greenhalgh stated that he was a “realist”, that the problems “were not caused by the banking crisis but by Gordon Browns reckless spending” and that he would be surprised if the Labour group would support any of the measures but they would instead post press releases to the Adver at the first opportunity. (And it was all going so well, Doh.)

Cllr Shaw then revisited the Wroughton playground issue arguing that this was the cumulation of many months of exemplary work between residence, parish councillors, SBC councillors and the children of Wroughton that has resulted in an eighty page document that was a testament to all involved. The disappointment would be unbearable although he understood the constraints. He asked for clarification that central government would be clawing back only the unallocated funds and that he had it on good authority that the playground equipment had already been delivered to the council or at the very least had been ordered. Cllr Williams stated that he would check the status and hoped this would be the case and Cllr Bluh added that as far as he was concerned, a purchase order constituted a contractual agreement meaning that the funds had been allocated and not eligible for claw back. Again this required clarification.

Agenda Item 6: One Swindon

As far as I can surmise, One Swindon is an extension of CP2 designed to bring the Council, SSEP, Police, Health authority, voluntary groups etc. together in order to fill the gaps that the council will not be able to cover moving forward. Cllr Bluh pontificated at great length on how excited he is about One Swindon and its importance to secure the best possible outcome for the borough in these difficult times. The mantra of “ask not what you council can do for you...” was also rolled out.

After the previous agenda item, it was difficult to get excited by the One Swindon proposition. Cllr Bluh reminded me of David Brent in the scene from “The Office” where he informs his staff that the Slough office is to be closed with most losing their jobs, but there is good news in that he has been promoted to area manager. Brent then struggles to understand why no-one is happy for him.

I am sure that this will prove to be a worthwhile think-tank going forward but you are going to have to give us more time with the One Swindon thing Cllr Bluh.

Agenda Item 8: Debt Management

Apparently, SBC are one of the best debt collecting local authorities in the country with council tax collection running at a gnats todger below 98%. It was confirmed that this was done exclusively by legal means, which is comforting. Things could get a little busy for this department in the next few years.

Agenda Item 9: Proposed Relocation of the Registry Office

The meeting room that we were in for this cabinet meeting is to converted to the registry office. Although there will be an initial outlay it is believed that it will move into profit quickly with savings including the rent of the current Temple Street office. It was felt that using the Civic Offices for this purpose was appropriate.

P.S. This is the first meeting for sometime that WiFi did not get a mention in any capacity.

http://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=285&MId=4276&Ver=4&J=2


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Offline Muggins

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Re: View from the cheap seats: Cabinet Meeting 21st July 2010
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2010, 08:24:32 AM »
"As far as I can surmise, One Swindon is an extension of CP2 designed to bring the Council, SSEP, Police, Health authority, voluntary groups etc. together in order to fill the gaps that the council will not be able to cover moving forward".

Can't help thinking that it would all be easier if we paid a few more bob in Council tax?

The Partnership muted above should already exist in the Swindon Strategic Partnership, that was shrunken to an Executive committee and us volunteers were somewhere in some sub, sub, sub group.

Let's see how much further they get with this 'new' idea, with a whole part of their idea having been completely snubbed by them up to now. Not the last council or last government, but the very same council

If they are including the voluntary sector, to whom have they been talking, no one that I know.  Maybe paid workers in the voluntary sector? Worthy people though they are, that's not the muggins that will have to turn out to fill all those paid staff jobs.

Rod Bluh is on the radio now - He says:-  A leading piece of policy, a first in the UK, born out of partnership working,  says he has a good tie up with vol and com sector,  (Oh Yes??) went to CPCP pushing service delivery to community level, will build on that, for the very first time - they will produce a document re shared outcomes, inviting anyone who wants to participate through the clusters  :2funny: to have a say about those outcomes.   It's not just the big society, more than that. 
It's not about what council can do for us, but what we can do for them/our communties.  Drive a different dynamic and more involvement, in return they expect us  - he's a bottom up  politician  :2funny: :2funny: - changing the dynamic - strength of working,  looking at LIFE project produced stunning results, best council for protecting children (not sure of the relevance of this)  dramatic results reducing teenage pregnancies.  Cultural change. (I think he means a CULTURE change) aligned with new reality.  Needs to save £15,000,000.  He thinks it will help us (I think he means 'him') cope with the new reality.  Even when it (money situation) recovers it will never support Swindon as it did in the past. He doesn't want to look at it as saving council money but increasing quality of life. Framing it for better results, got to get in to preventing problems to save the cost of putting things rigth.  Interviewer says he thinks job will go and volunteers will pick them up.  Rod says no, saving by transformation - service rocketed in performance.  Scale of these cuts means just can't trim things.  they had a meeting of One Swindon (who represented the Voluntary sector at that?)  All in it together!

The man's delusional.

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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: View from the cheap seats: Cabinet Meeting 21st July 2010
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2010, 11:56:13 AM »

Bluh's learned to spin like Alistair Campbell.

Thanks Chris & Muggins :)

Offline Chris Watts

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Re: View from the cheap seats: Cabinet Meeting 21st July 2010
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2010, 06:33:15 PM »
Nice one Muggins. You seemed to have captured the essence of last nights meeting. I wish I could write as fast as you type.

It should be noted that tonights Bluh Column in the "out of favour" adver* is also devoid of laying the blame on the last government. How long can this truce hold. It must be killing them inside.

* After last night I do not think that I can call it the Pravda anymore.
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Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: View from the cheap seats: Cabinet Meeting 21st July 2010
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2010, 09:49:01 PM »
I must confess to be somewhat amused that for all the bluster that Labour never did anything for Swindon and the alleged heated discussions between former Labour MP's Anne Snelgrove and Michael Wills and Rod Bluh over lack of funding it was a LibCon government that actually reduced it by £1.4m!

You couldn't make it up!!

and I wonder what Rod has to say about that?

Is it possible that the Labour MP's actually did rather better for Swindon than has hitherto been acknowledged?
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Offline Monkey Boy

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Re: View from the cheap seats: Cabinet Meeting 21st July 2010
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2010, 12:27:51 PM »

Is it possible that the Labour MP's actually did rather better for Swindon than has hitherto been acknowledged?

No, absolutely not.  The fact is that we were poorly funded before and our previous MPs never managed to achieve a rebalancing of our funding in a time when it seems it was all spend spend spend everywhere else.  The challenge now is for Justin & Robert to prove demonstrably that they have saved Swindon being cut as much as it might otherwise have been, in a time when it is cut cut cut for everyone. No?

Offline Bobby Bingo

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Re: View from the cheap seats: Cabinet Meeting 21st July 2010
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2010, 02:27:42 PM »
No wonder we have a coalition government when people with blind faith like you have the vote.
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Offline Mart

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Re: View from the cheap seats: Cabinet Meeting 21st July 2010
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2010, 09:15:19 PM »
I don't think the party is relevant, useless git or not a useless git is more pertinent.

Labour didn't fund Swindon because the Council was run by a diiferent party, true perhaps, but a more meaningful truth is that whoever made the decision, if through political spite, is a useless git.

Gittishness has no political allegiance, luckily for politicians.
Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don’t know what your rights are, or who the person is you’re talking to. Then, on the way out, slam the door.

Offline Monkey Boy

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Re: View from the cheap seats: Cabinet Meeting 21st July 2010
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2010, 08:26:00 AM »
No wonder we have a coalition government when people with blind faith like you have the vote.
There is a care home in Dorset waiting for you. It is called Monkey World. Suggest you pay it a visit!

You're misreading me - it wasn't blind faith in Justin & Rob.  It was a challenge to them, and I'll judge them just the same as I judged the previous incumbents.

Besides which, I thought this forum was always about attack the principle, not the person?

Offline Mart

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Re: View from the cheap seats: Cabinet Meeting 21st July 2010
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2010, 03:22:36 PM »
What if the person has no principles.
Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don’t know what your rights are, or who the person is you’re talking to. Then, on the way out, slam the door.

Offline Mellon

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Re: View from the cheap seats: Cabinet Meeting 21st July 2010
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2010, 03:24:24 PM »
woooooooah slow your brakes gents, before someone bruises a testicle.

lets take a look at this in s different light, forget Political allegiance, forget the MP's. Now what your left with is funds from central government to the local administration.....now it is the local administration that distributes these funds, before i get absolutely hammered for this...it is true the budget has lost at least £1.4 million. But i recently sat down and did some maths behind the recent council projects coming to an estimated cost of £1,616,000 that could have been saved for times like this, not as a final solution but a slight buffer to an upcoming reduction of funds.

So it doesnt matter which party is in power its still short sighted behaviour from the local administration. Behaviour that has put Swindon at a higher risk to the second dip....its too late for me and some other people in Swindon because the dip has already hit us. Back to my original point.........dont attack each other just because of political allegiance and view, work together to hold this council by its throat and get it on track to making the right decisions for the towns people not the councillors. Besides were one Big Society now..... :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny:

What if the person has no principles.

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Offline Mart

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Re: View from the cheap seats: Cabinet Meeting 21st July 2010
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2010, 03:52:31 PM »
So it doesnt matter which party is in power its still short sighted behaviour from the local administration

Exactly right.

I'd generally be suspicious of anyone who claimed political allegiance enhanced government at any level, I will be buggered if I can see why being a tory fills one with a mystical ability to get a pavement laid, especially in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary.

I will remain eternally mystified as to why being a labour type should imbue said comrade with razorlike fiscal acumen, as before, especially in the face of compelling and ongoing evidence to the contrary.

I am confounded as to why being a lib dem would guarantee a genetic predisposition to erm, um, er, oh yeah, devise the only fair form of voting in the democratic world. However in a world where you are condemned to arrive second or third means it's a bit of an arse to get it adopted. Cost £10mill just to ask permission. Apparently.

Then if you get one political party ruling, at any level, dogma stifles original thought and the ruling party eternally cops a deaf'un to all external suggestions.

If you get a fairly even distribution of political affiliations then each party will devote entirely too much energy to defence and attack of political foes, energy that could, and should, be spent in other ways.

Let's face it the trouble with government is politicians.
Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don’t know what your rights are, or who the person is you’re talking to. Then, on the way out, slam the door.

Offline Simon

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Re: View from the cheap seats: Cabinet Meeting 21st July 2010
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2010, 12:09:32 PM »
Let's face it the trouble with government is politicians.

Yep.
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Offline Alex

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Re: View from the cheap seats: Cabinet Meeting 21st July 2010
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2010, 03:31:23 PM »
Let's face it the trouble with government is politicians.

Yep.

And the fact that they spin- and becasue of that we have no idea who to trust- and are even  less likely to believe in the future.